West Virginian Republican candidate Shelly Moore Capito has won the Senate race in West Virginia, making her the first female senator to ever win in the state. Capito's victory also marks the GOP's first net gain in the Senate tonight. Capito defeated Democratic candidate Democrat Natalie Tennant, West Virginia's secretary of state, to fill the seat vacated by retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller, also a Democrat. While Capito's victory does not come as a particular surprise, its early announcement certainly sets an ominous tone for Democrats as the night progresses.
West Virginia, decidedly disenchanted with President Obama, seemed uninterested in Tennant from the very start. Though Tennant attempted to distance herself from the unpopular president, even opposing some of his legislation on energy reform, she was unable to convince West Virginians that she was centrist enough to win their votes. Capito, on the other hand, has been lauded for her bipartisan efforts, which will certain be a welcome breath of fresh air in a Senate plagued by gridlock and inter-party bickering.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Capito was often regarded as a moderate during her 13-year tenure in the House of Representatives. Her effectiveness at reaching across the aisle allowed her to successfully lobby for a law against domestic violence that ultimately garnered more Democratic than Republican support. And despite the statewide disdain for Obama and his namesake policy, Obamacare, the Journal reports that Capito will devote more energies to making the law more manageable than trying to waste time battling it.
Capito hails from a political family — she is the daughter of former West Virginia Governor Arch Moore, who served as the state's leader 1969 to 1977 and again from 1985 to 1989. However, his administration was plagued with scandal. In 1990, the former governor was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison, and forced to pay a fine of $170,000 as a result of corruption in and out of the office.
But unencumbered by her father's history, Capito looks to be making positive strides in her own political career. Speaking on Fox News shortly after the announcement of her victory, Capito said,
I am looking forward to working with senators from all over the country, regardless of their party, on both sides of the aisle, that share the same optimism for our country that I do. Together I hope we can reinstate respect for the institution of the United States Senate, a place where deliberation and debate are valued, and all voices are heard. This election marks a true turning point in our state's history. It is the first time...in nearly 60 years that we have sent a Republican to the United States Senate, and I believe with that, that our state's political climate has returned to a competitive two-party system.
Hopefully, Capito's new role in the Senate will not deter her from continuing to participate in the bipartisan women’s Capitol Hill softball team. According to the Washington Post, Capito earned the nickname, the “brick wall” of third base, and serves as one of the team’s captains. In 2012, Capito was declared the defensive MVP of the team, so her performance in Senate as the first female West Virginian senator is not to be missed.
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