At age 87, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) is tossing his hat into the ring for a ninth senate term. Though he won by 57% margin in 2000, many keen watchers are saying this go-round isn’t a fait accompli.
Larry Sabato, UVA political guru and perhaps the most quoted man in journalism, has this race leaning toward Byrd, “but this is not the West Virginia he has been elected to represent so many times before. The state has rather rapidly moved into the Republican column, at least presidentially, and this is having an effect on the potential lineup for 2006.” And a quick comparison between the 2000 and 2004 election tallies shows Bush widening his margin of victory from 6% to 13%.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee smells blood in the water. Spokesman Brian Nick told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review earlier this month, ” This is one of the most winnable races in the country.” The same article reported that polls by both committees found Byrd up by 10 points over his most likely opponent, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito.
Look for the angry left to rally around Byrd, in addition to the more than $800,000 raised by MoveOn for him this spring. They’ll remember his support during the filibuster battles and will be glad to provide ample funding.