I feel that a lot of perhaps misplaced angst (and possibly, even recklessness) is on display in this Roll Call article that’s ostensibly about finding a more conservative alternative to Shelley Capito for WV-SEN (people could be forgiven for thinking that the article is actually about complaining about the Tea Party in general). You can like or not like Shelley Capito as you please, of course. You can rather keep Senator Rockefeller in that position until he dies than put in an insufficiently conservative Republican replacement, too. You can even be disgusted by the whole thing. I have varying degrees of sympathy towards those positions, but it’s a free country: you don’t have to care about my personal opinions if you don’t want to.
What you shouldn’t do is ignore the basic math of the situation. The West Virginia legislature is controlled by the Democratic party: the breakdown is 54D/46R in the House of Delegates and 28D/6R in the state Senate. If you want to have credible, conservative alternatives to run for Senate and Congress and governorships, you need to, bluntly, breed them first in the state legislatures. I respect the work that the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund and other national conservative groups do, and I share their frustration with a system that seems to be a little less than… nimble, sometimes. But there is no substitute for legwork. Clearly West Virginians will vote for Republicans, at least for President. Also clearly, they’re happy to vote for Democrats on the state level. The first step to making the Democrats sweat in that state should be in getting West Virginians to change their habit of ticket-splitting.
PS: If you are a Republican in West Virginia the WV GOP wants to hear from you.
PS: Seriously, there are no shortcuts. Competing on the federal level more or less requires that we first successfully compete on the state level.