West Virginia elected its first female U.S. Senator tonight when Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito defeated Secretary of State Natalie Tenant for the seat vacated by Democrat Jay Rockefeller.
Once a Democratic stronghold, West Virginia has become more receptive to Republican candidates in recent years. During the campaign, Tennant campaigned with progressive Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren while Capito ran a more conventionally conservative campaign, emphasizing Democratic policies she characterized as out of touch with West Virginia voters.
One of the issues Capito capitalized on was the Obama administration’s move to place increased regulatory burdens and restrictions placed on coal mining and how that would affect West Virginia’s economy and culture.
For her part, Tenant tried to assure voters she would stand up to Obama’s “war on coal.”
West Virginia was almost certainly going to elect a female Senator this year, as both major party candidates on the ballot were female. Republican leaders emphasized the noteworthiness of replacing a male Democratic incumbent with a female Republican.