PARKERSBURG - An ad against the governor's anticipated candidacy for the U.S. Senate was called an absurd and desperate attempt by the Republican Party to sway him against running.
The West Virginia Republican Party on Wednesday ran an ad in the Charleston newspapers attempting to tie Gov. Joe Manchin to President Obama, California Sen. Barbara Boxer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It asks Manchin if the administration's and Senate leadership's support of cap and trade, the stimulus bill, the health care reform and opposition to the Arizona immigration law are representative of West Virginia values.
"We want to know if Joe is going to stand with the Big 3 or is he standing with the people of West Virginia," said Doug McKinney, chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party.
The ad implies West Virginians disagree with the administration and Senate leadership on the four issues and cites the Department of Labor, the Beacon-Hill Institute and Rasmussen Reports. Rasmussen last week said Manchin would easily defeat Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, and more easily defeat Betty Ireland, a former secretary of state, two Republicans cited as possible candidates for the U.S. Senate.
"We find it amusing," said Derek Scarbro, executive director of the West Virginia Democratic Party.
Only several weeks ago the Republicans were calling for a special election for the unexpired term, he said. It's likely there will be a special election as the Legislature convened in special session on Thursday to clarify the succession laws and allow for a special election this year, Scarbro said.
"Now they are trying to keep the governor from running," Scarbro said.
The ad shows the desperation of the Republicans in light of the governor's popularity, he said. Manchin has yet to officially announce, but said it's likely he'll run in a special election.
"It just shows how strong a candidate the governor would be," Scarbro said.
Response to the ad has been tremendous, McKinney said. The ad has only ran in Charleston and is part of a series to run, but the response is being reviewed to determine if the ads will run elsewhere in the state, he said.
The advertisements are being financed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, McKinney said.
The committee, which also financed the opening of the regional Republican headquarters in Vienna, and the National Republican Committee are recognizing the importance of the race and that a victory for the GOP could be the swing race giving the party control of the Senate, he said. A GOP victory in West Virginia is not out of the realm of possibility because of the mood of the country, he said.
McKinney said the ads are for whoever the Republican candidate will be in the special election and in anticipation of the election in 2012 for the full term.
"We're going to start early and we're going to work late," he said.