Tuesday, July 02, 2013

GOP sees Obama's climate initiative as an opportunity to beat coal-state Democrats

Republicans say President Obama's plan to fight climate change could benefit them in midterm elections in coal country, opening the door for their party to grab seats held by Democrats, and to ensure that an incumbent like Mitch McConnell of Kentucky stays in office, Trip Gabriel reports for The New York Times. (NYT photo by Shawn Poynter: Kentucky Power's Big Sandy Plant)

Alison Lundergan Grimes
Senate elections in 2014 include open seats in West Virginia and South Dakota now held by Democrats, and elections in energy-rich Louisiana, where Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is on shaky ground, and Kentucky, where Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said yesterday she is taking on McConnell, the Senate GOP leader and a top target of Democrats. He would like to become majority leader; to do that, his party would need a net gain of six seats.

Nick Rahall
Following Obama's climate-change speech last week, Republicans immediately went on the attack against Democratic House members in mining states, and Democratic candidates like Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia are trying to distance themselves from the president, Fears reports. But Republicans are trying to link Democratic candidates to Obama and his speech, to get the upper hand. After Grimes announced she was immediately attacked by national Republicans as being joined at the hip to the president in a “desire to destroy the coal industry."

Obama's speech isn't helping Democrats in coal states. Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky (and publisher of The Rural Blog) told Gabriel that Obama “has no more elections to win, and he can play his real cards. He was already the most anti-coal president we’ve ever had, and now he’s doubled down. That is not good for Kentucky Democrats in any shape, form or fashion.”

Rahall sounded nearly as hostile as the billboards dotting coal country bought by mining interests that declare “Obama’s No Jobs Zone,” saying he was “profoundly disappointed” by the president’s new initiative, Fears reports. Rahall said “I’m not ever, ever, ever going to back away from fighting for our coal miners."

Shelley Moore Capito
"Republicans countered that on this issue Democrats can run but they cannot hide," Gabriel writes. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) who is seeking the Senate seat that opened with the retirement of John D. Rockefeller IV, a Democrat, said the president’s climate initiative “is a problem for every Democrat. You are, for better or worse, a part of the party that you put your name on the ballot with.” (Read more)

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