West Virginia Blue Dog Nick Casey-- Another Bad Steve Israel Recruit
At the very end of the video above, you can hear former West Virginia Democratic Party chairman Nick Casey boast that if he's elected to Congress next month, he won't support Nancy Pelosi. Back in June, Casey, the Steve Israel recruit for West Virginia's 2nd district-- the seat Shelley Moore Capito is giving up to run for the Senate-- said he was "honored to receive the endorsement of the Blue Dog Democrats who share my commitment to commonsense West Virginia values of fiscal conservatism, making government do more with less, and bringing folks together to solve problems that matter instead of focusing on issues that divide us. These are the kind of principles that my family and West Virginians practice in their lives every day, but are sorely missing in Washington. Congress is completely dysfunctional and has been paralyzed from acting because of the extreme partisan views and attack-style politics that my opponent has made a career of practicing. I’m not a career politician like my opponent and I know I will be a strong voice in bringing bi-partisan problem solving values to Congress."
The district, which stretches across the state from the DC suburbs around Martinsburg and Charles Town all the way across the state to the Ohio border and Charleston. The PVI is R+11. McCain beat Obama 55-44% in 2008 and Romney did even better-- 60-38%. In 2012, Capitol beat her Democratic opponent, Howard Swint, 70-30%. The district may have been "traditionally" Democratic, but it has certainly been trending Republican. But Steve Israel, who put him in the DCCC's Red-to-Blue program, is betting on his brother Blue Dog to win it back for Team Blue… even if he'd be helping to elect someone who will always be voting with Team Red. A quarter of his campaign has been funded out of his own bank account-- he contributed $300,000 of his own-- and, as of the June 30 FEC filing deadline he had out raised Republican Alex Mooney $1,205,678 to $1,025,153. Mooney, a politician from Maryland who moved to the district expressly to run for the open seat. On June 30 Casey had $874,591 cash-on-hand and Mooney had $352,801.
So far the DCCC hasn't spent money in the district, although their House Majority PAC has $737,000 with of broadcast reservations in the DC media market, some of which could be used to support Casey. The DCCC itself seems to be spending over a million dollars in the state, but to defend Nick Rahall in the 3rd CD; their House Majority PAC has another $900,000 in the Rahall race. It looks like bad polling has scared the DCCC away from Casey's longshot campaign.
The only two public polls were done by less than trustworthy partisan GOP firms, Tarrance Group in May, which showed Mooney up 39-29% and then Public Opinion Strategies in August, which showed similar results, Mooney with 40% and Casey with 28%.
Mooney's campaign, which is basically a one note effort to tie the conservative Casey to the "liberal" Obama, has been more successful than Casey's one note campaign of painting Mooney as an outsider, "not one of us."
Only 30 miles and the Potomac River separate this bedroom community in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Frederick, Maryland’s second-largest city.Maybe in a Democratic year, with Hillary on top of the ticket… but this is a midterm in a year that's favoring Republicans. Israel realizes Casey, an anti-Choice conservative, doesn't have much of a shot and that a progressive, Ed Rabel, is on the ballot as an Independent and in position to take 10% of the vote. This district will be staying red this cycle.
But if you ask Nick Casey, a West Virginia congressional candidate, people on his side of the river cannot possibly relate to those on the other.
“We do work where people get their hands dirty, and they get sweaty,” said Mr. Casey, a former Democratic state party chairman. “That’s been the tradition of West Virginia.”
“People are more than suspicious of why someone, who a few months ago was from out of state, suddenly has to come to West Virginia to save it,” he said.
He was describing his opponent, Alex X. Mooney, a former Maryland state senator and Republican state party chairman, who moved here from Frederick last year and promptly announced he would run for the open congressional seat in West Virginia’s Second District, which spans the width of the state and includes coal country and Bohemian spa towns alike.
But his move and immediate campaign have quickly turned this race into a referendum on whether local ties even matter in a district so sprawling that it lacks a unifying regional identity in an era marked by a highly mobile population. Western Maryland, Mr. Casey argues, is far different from the prideful-- and increasingly conservative-- West Virginia.
…“I believe the candidate should be for the people,” said Butch Gray, 52, in front of his childhood home along a single-lane road in rural Clay County, W.Va., adding that it should not matter where someone lives.
House candidates are constitutionally required only to live in the state-- not the district-- where they run, but the contests in this Appalachian region have a distinct geographical and regional flair, even as they create openings for what some call carpetbaggers.
“I think there’s going to be a segment that’s going to rule him out,” Neil Berch, a West Virginia University political science professor, said of Mr. Mooney. “There’s also going to be a segment that thinks the best preacher’s a convert. That he’s wrapped himself in West Virginia values.”
That openness to newcomers is welcome news for Mr. Mooney, who declined to comment for this article. Backed by Tea Party energy and money, Mr. Mooney is rated by independent analysts as the favorite to replace the popular Republican congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, who is running for the United States Senate. Like Republican candidates nationally, Mr. Mooney is branding his opponent as a stalwart supporter of Mr. Obama, who lost West Virginia twice. But the campaign is also a test of whether it matters that Mr. Mooney is only a come-lately West Virginian.
It is a challenge he is tackling head-on. His first television ad tells audiences that he “came to West Virginia to live in freedom,” and the first sentence of his biography on his navy-and-gold campaign website reads, “Alex Mooney is a resident of Jefferson County, West Virginia.”
His choice of Jefferson County has only compounded suspicion. The early-morning commuter trains here in the Eastern Panhandle whisk workers to the nation’s capital far quicker than the six hours needed to reach the Capitol building in Charleston. And more than half of Charles Town’s residents are transplants from Maryland or Virginia, not descendants of the crowd that hanged John Brown in the courthouse square here about 150 years ago.
“I think you’d have to do a lot of boots-on-the-ground kind of research to be able to represent the entire district if that’s the only part of West Virginia that you know,” said Jill Lepore, 38, as she visited her parents’ house edged into the mountains in Frametown, in the central part of the state. “I really don’t think that it’s a good representation of what we need-- someone who’s not a resident, someone who doesn’t really understand the people they’re representing.”