David Yates Oct. 23, 2014, 1:13pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) – In a state predominately Democratic, West Virginians are primed to elect a Republican to the U.S. Senate for the first time in more than half a century.

The latest round of polls and campaign finance reports show Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, the Democratic Senate nominee, trailing U.S. Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, the GOP candidate, in both money raised and potential votes.

Capito, the longtime 2nd District congresswoman, opted not to run for an eighth term and instead pursue the seat being vacated by Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

As of Sept. 30, Capito had raised more than $7 million. Her Democratic rival, Tennant, failed to raise even half of that amount, netting $3.3 million in contributions so far in the 2013-2014 election cycle, according to campaign finance reports on file with the Federal Election Commission.  

Heading into the final weeks, Capito is armed with $3.4 million remaining in her war chest, while Tennant has less than $1.2 million in reserve funds.

In the third quarter, Tennant raised more than $860,000, most of which ($795,593.25) was supplied by individual donations, campaign finance records show.

Capito, conversely, received ample support from political action committees in the third quarter, collecting more than $541,000 from PACs. From the start of July to the end of September, Capito harvested nearly $1.4 million in contributions.

So far, PACs have donated more than $1.8 million to Capito, with the bulk of the donations, $1.4 million, coming from business PACs.

For Tennant, Emily’s List, a group supporting pro-choice candidates, has been her largest contributor this year, donating more than $167,000 to the congressional hopeful so far, according to opensecrets.org.

West Virginia law firms have also been major donors to Tennant this election cycle, with attorneys for Bucci, Bailey & Javins and Bordas & Bordas supplying more than $41,000 in donations.

Capito, on the other hand, has been supported heavily by the business and energy community, receiving tens of thousands of dollars in donations from companies such as Powell Construction, Citigroup, Alpha Natural Resources, FirstEnergy, Metlife, American Electric Power and Wells Fargo.

In all, mining companies have pumped more than $287,000 into the race, topping total donations from lawyers and lawyers firms, which account for more than $251,000 in contributions, according to opensecrets.org.

As far as who is likely to win goes, Real Clear Politics has Capito up by 17 points.

A Rasmussen Reports poll, conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, showed West Virginia voters favored Capito over Tennant by a 50-to-39 percent margin.

According to data collected by the Huffington Post, the likelihood Capito will beat Tennant is 97.4 percent.  

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com

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