Last night WV Senate candidates Joe Manchin, supposedly a Democrat, and John Raese, the Tea Party favourite, met (along with the Mountain party and Constitution party candidates, deservedly trailing far behind) in their only planned TV debate. I thought Manchin was not just much the most impressive of the bunch, but the only one remotely fit for high office. Raese has a steady, confident presence, I grant you, and a fine baritone, but his views are anything but calm. He called Obamacare “pure unadulterated socialism”. He is a full-frontal global-warming denier: (a) it isn’t happening and (b) if it were, it wouldn’t be our fault. On foreign policy: “My philosophy has always been very simple. We win, you lose.” Once you understand that, I suppose, the rest is easy.
Think of Manchin, on the other hand, as a moderate Republican running as a Democrat–for which there is much to be said. He is willing to work with Obama, he conceded, but then he is willing to work with anybody. He looked competent, and sounded as though he might know what he was talking about. In this field, that set him apart. I can see why West Virginians might prefer to retain him as governor (see previous post) rather than send him to DC.
What surprised me about the other two candidates was how unprepared they seemed. It was as if they had been picked up at random and brought to the set with sacks over their heads. Asked to make opening statements, they looked instantly wrong-footed: who said anything about opening statements? Jeff Becker of the state’s Constitution party is a truther, by the way: he answered a question on Afghanistan by pointing out anomalies in the conventional wisdom about 9/11 and (if I understood him correctly, which I cannot swear I did) alleging BBC involvement in the plot.
I say vote Manchin.
Update: Incidentally, you can watch the Manchin TV spot I mentioned in my Monday column about the race here.