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2012: Players Needed

October 20, 2011 - Joselyn King
As filing deadlines approach for 2012 political races, it seems there aren't enough runners to fill the starting blocks.

Opportunities abound for candidates next year, as many first-term office holders are up for re-election. But the political athletes capable of going the distance are few and far between.

At the top of the ballot,many pundits term President Barack Obama vulnerable. Maybe. But where is the person to challenge him? There doesn't appear to be an olympic-caliber contender among the current pack of Republican presidential candidates.

Switching sports -- to U.S. Senate and House contests -- it seems there also is a dire need for homerun hitters and leaders who cover all their bases.

But unfortunately, years of electoral stagnation has resulted in having no political farm teams in West Virginia. The benches for prospective political candidates don't run deep.

Lets look at the election line-up for 2012:

-- There are U.S. Senate seats for election up in both West Virginia and Ohio.

Freshman Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. -- elected just last year in a special election -- finds himself in the batter's box again in 2012.

Is there anybody out there willing to face Joe???? I'm guessing I'm hearing crickets. It's likely any credible candidates -- current U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito among them -- will put their efforts into another race that's more winnable.

In Ohio, first-term Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is on the ballot, and it's expected current Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel will step out as the Republican to challenge him.

Mandel is young, an Iraq war veteran, and has the means to tap financial sources. He'll at least make it harder for the political veteran Brown.

-- In the U.S. House, Democrats likely will push hard next year to regain local seats won by Republicans in 2010.

It looks like, though, the same losing candidates will run again, hoping for different results.

Democrat Mike Oliverio -- who narrowly lost to Rep. David McKinley in 2010 -- has announced he will challenge for the seat in 2012.

Oliverio beat 28-year incumbent Alan Mollohan in the 2010 Democrat primary, and Mollohan said early this year he may seek to regain his seat in 2012.

In Ohio, former Rep. Charlie Wilson, a Democrat, also is indicating a political comeback and will challenge Rep. Bill Johnson in Ohio's 6th District.

-- If doesn't seem West Virginia Gov.-elect Earl Ray Tomblin will even need to pick up the signs following his recent election on Oct. 4.

West Virginians will see all state offices on the ballot next year. And while Tomblin will seek re-election, it's not clear who the Republicans will be who will step forward to challenge him.

Most of the stronger contenders ran this year in this year's special primary election for governor, and lost to businessman and political upstart Bill Maloney.

Maloney might as well try again for the job, as he seemed to be gaining momentum in the final days of the election and made it tight against the veteran Tomblin.

Still, he'll be coming off a fresh loss for the same job presumably against the same incumbent candidate.

Maybe Capito should consider a run for the state's top job? Between running for re-election in a GOP-controlled House, moving to the Senate or assuming her father's former position as governor, Capito is a lady who will have many options at the beginning of 2012.

And her choice will have profound effect on the rest of the ballot.

Don't forget there also will be state senate races. Will Ohio Sen. Jason Wilson, D-Columbiana , cut out of his district, move to run for re-election? And which candidates will move to challenge West Virginia Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke?

Freshmen West Virginia Delegates Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio, will be on the ballot. And in Ohio, the House district including western Belmont County could be open to candidates if recent redistricting hold up through court challenges.

Too many spots, and not enough good men and women to fill them. We really need a few good women.


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