Skip to comments.GOP targeting Love, Bailey in quest of Senate control (West Virginia)
Posted on 05/14/2003 11:05:17 PM PDT by LdSentinal
CHARLESTON - After tasting blood only months ago, like a roaring lion, the Republican Party wants to feast on the Legislature again - specifically, the Senate.
Which is why, although no names have been tossed out, the party is aiming its gunsights on all available Senate seats - including two in southern Wet Virginia.
That means the party is shopping around for someone to take on Sens. Shirley Love, D-Fayette, and Billy Wayne Bailey, D-Wyoming, assuming each runs again and survives the primary.
Last November, the Republicans grabbed four of the 34 seats in the Senate, and the party hungers for more.
"We have 10 now, and if we pick up four or five more, effectively, we have control, even though it's not a majority," state Chairman Kris Warner reflected this week at the Capitol.
"There are enough conservative Democrats in there that we believe they will caucus with us to make a real difference."
Warner is confident the GOP can gain at least two more Senate seats.
"I won't tell you today that we have a candidate going against Bailey, but I know there's a lot of interest," he said.
"We had a conversation at Bob Evans in South Charleston on that exact race."
Nor has anyone come out of the woodwork to be identified as a challenger to Love, "but we're working on that," Warner said.
"We think our best opportunity for gain is in the state Senate," the chairman said.
In fact, the party is seeking to fill all 117 seats up for grabs next year - 17 in the Senate and all 100 in the House.
In the 27th District, seven Republicans have filed, among them incumbent Linda Sumner, a victor last year.
Joining Sumner are fellow Republicans who ran and lost last year - Charles Carpenter, Jeff Robinson and Philip Stevens, and newcomers Burt Casteel of Ghent, Ronald Ray Hedrick of Beaver and Timothy Wayne Word of Beckley.
Two incumbents filed early - incumbent Democrats Virginia Mahan and Ron Thompson - as well as a third Democrat, Clyde McKnight Jr. of Rock Creek, who lost in last year's primary.
Notably missing from the pre-candidacy filing list is House Speaker Bob Kiss, D-Raleigh, the object of an unusual Republican news release late last month.
Warner stood by his contention Kiss will attempt to oust Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, although the Beckley tax lawyer laughed off the announcement and said his political future hasn't been mapped out as of yet.
Warner likened the ship of state to the Titanic after it struck the ill-placed iceberg in 1912.
"The ship's going down," he said. "Women and children are crying and yelling and screaming. (Kiss is) going to take the first life raft out that he can and that's a Supreme Court seat. He's going to try to unseat Mr. McGraw."
Warner contended the speaker wants to avoid an all-out battle with Republicans next year after Sumner's success.
"He sees the writing on the wall," the chairman said. "We will elect another Republican or two in that district in the 2004 election."
Nor has Delegate Sally Susman, D-Raleigh, filed papers with the secretary's office.
Sen. Sarah Minear, R-Tucker, became the third Republican to form an exploratory committee for governor, which allows a candidate to raise funds. State law allows a candidate to change his or her mind, so the papers aren't binding to a particular race, even if one is designated.
Former coal operator Paul Kizer of Beckley and Robin Capehart, a former tax and revenue secretary, filed ahead of Minear in the gubernatorial sweepstakes.
Gov. Bob Wise has raised more than $1 million and joins one other Democrat so far - Fred Schell of Worthington.
Two others filed papers - Constitution Party candidate Phillip Hudok of Huttonsville and Libertarian Simon McClure of Bridgeport.
Senate Minority Leader Vic Sprouse, R-Kanawha, threw his support to Minear, ending speculation fueled by his "undeclared status" on his pre-candidacy papers he would run for governor.
Some other big names are "undeclared," among them former Sen. Mark Burnette, D-Greenbrier, and Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
Another is Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, the United Mine Workers official who touched off the heated debate a year ago in the overweight coal truck issue.
Secretary of State Joe Manchin often is linked to gubernatorial rumors, but his papers indicate a shot at re-election. By virtue of a recent Metro News poll, in a theoretical race with Wise, he led better than 4-1.
Treasurer John Perdue is another key Democrat suggested as a Wise challenger, but he is seeking re-election - at least for now. Terrance Thomas Rowsey, a Republican in Huntington, wants to replace him.
Sen. Anita Caldwell, D-Mercer, seeks re-election in the 10th District, and to date, no Republican has filed to challenge her.