April 17, 2005


The Republicans poll;
Democrats plead
(Don Surber, 4/14/05, Charleston Daily Mail)

West Virginians know why Democrats brought in Barack Obama to raise money for Bob Byrd's bid for a ninth term.

Byrd is acting scared.

He is a legend. He never won a Senate race by less than 30 points. West Virginians put him right up there with Sears and Carter's liver pills.

But times change, and whatever my disagreements with Byrd may be, he is a masterful politician.

Byrd taught Ted Kennedy how to count votes in a 1971 upset over the No. 2 post in the Senate. Kennedy miscalculated.

Byrd continues counting. He might see himself falling a few votes short this time.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee did a telephone poll of 500 likely voters on March 15-16 and found Republican Congresswoman Shelley Capito is within 10 points of Byrd.

Byrd was ahead 52 percent to 42. The margin of error is 4.3 percent, meaning that in 19 out of 20 cases, the numbers for the two would fall between 48 and 56 for Byrd and 38 and 46 for Capito.

The days of the 30-point wins may have passed.

Ms Capito should speak to Al D'amato.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2005 1:36 PM

Nobody is happier to see Old Sheets in trouble than I am. However, comparisons with Jack Javits are not instructive. There was always a significant group in the NY GOP which hated Javits, both for his liberal politics and his rather difficult personality. When Rocky died, the relative conservatives in the GOP saw their chance to knock off Javits. Also, the Democrats were always able to put up obscure candidates like Ramsey Clark and poll over 35-40% against him.

Byrd has no such party opposition, and his history shows no electoral threat.

However, if the GOP can bluff the Dems into spending large amounts of resources in West Virginia, it makes it much harder for them to spend money in Florida, Washington, Minnesota and Nebraska where their seats are at large risk.

Posted by: bart at April 17, 2005 1:47 PM

Make his age an issue and he's toast. It nearly cost Jim Bunning his seat last year.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2005 2:22 PM

Why should she speak to D'Amato - do you think she needs lessons in bribery, kickbacks and corruption?

Now that I think of it, if you're running against Byrd, you probably do need those skills.

Posted by: ralph phelan at April 17, 2005 2:29 PM

Keeping Byrd on the front line, talking up a storm to a national audience, is probably the best thing for Republicans looking ahead to 2006, since his ramblings have gone in recent years from windbag pontifications about the constitution, with healthy doses of Athenian law and other oblique refrences tossed in, to wild conspiracy charges and panicked claims about a looming totalitarian state that have turned him into MoveOn.org's crazy great-grandfather.

West Viriginans can tolerate a pompus jerk who brings the bacon back from D.C., but Byrd's act has been so cringeworthy of late, I dobut he can hold on unless the Democrats lock him in a closet for the next 18 months.

Posted by: John at April 17, 2005 4:05 PM

While there are only a few people I'd wish gone from the capitol as much as Bobbie Sheets (The Swimmer, Leaky Leahy, his fellow West Virginian Rockefeller 3, and of course, Jim McDermott in the other chamber) I don't believe it'll happen unless they take him out feet first, and they'll have been dragging him in and out like the title character in "weekend at Bernie's" for months before they admit he's gone.

Posted by: MarkD at April 17, 2005 7:40 PM

Shelley's father Arch Moore, an authentic political genius, lost one of the tightest races in WV history for US Senate to an aged hack, Jennings Randolph, due to an unholy al;liance of the hard left and the coal industry, who were in Randolph's pocket due to all his favors for them through the years. He's his daughter's best advisor and you can bet he's cautious of her squandering an opportunity now when she can easily defeat whatever hack replaces Byrd.

On the upside, most folks I hear from in WV hate his anti-war anti-Bush stance and find him an almost intolerable embarrassment now...so long as he kept his yap shut and brought home the bacon his past was regrettable but forgettable..now I don't know if bribery is enough to keep him in.

Posted by: cornetofhorse at April 18, 2005 9:39 AM