Republican 2014 Senate prospects get a boost

As it stands now, Republicans will have to pick up six seats in 2014 in order to take control of the Senate. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Democrats will be defending a number of vulnerable seats.

One of the most vulnerable is the West Virginia seat occupied by Jay Rockefeller. Today, Republican Shelley Moore Capito is expected to announce that she will challenge the 75-year-old incumbent.

Capito currently serves in the House, where she has a center-right voting record. Her lifetime American Conservative Union rating is 70 percent. That’s far from ideal, of course, but it consititutes a good fit for West Virginia, which has become a center-right, but not truly conservative, state. Whether the missing 30 percent will give rise to strong opposition from a Tea Party type candidate remains to be seen.

As John Fund points out, during Capito’s congressional career, she has represented roughly 40 percent of the state’s voting population. And, for what it’s worth this early, she leads Rockefeller 48-44 in a poll taken a few months ago.

Rockefeller voted for Obamacare and supports environmental regulations that are unpopular in West Virginia. Accordingly, if he runs again, the Senator will have much to explain to a skeptical electorate.