Not too long ago, we secretly denied that it would be possible within a decade. Now it seems within our grasp.
A two party system may soon emerge in West Virginia.
The passing of Byrd has removed some of the powerful coattails that connected other Democratic candidates to voters. "Big Daddy" had big influence on state elections. Joe Manchin also has similar popularity, but he accomplishes this mainly by aping conservative positions in public while mainly voting with his party in the Senate. He who sits between two stools will someday have a hard fall.
Manchin's own race, plus the governor's race this month, illustrates the changes. Raese nearly knocked off Manchin. Tomblin goes into tomorrow essentially tied with Maloney. Independents and conservative Democrats in the north and east of the state are trending Maloney. Democratic registrations have fallen ten percent in the past eight years. This did not directly benefit the Republicans in registrations as much as campaigns.
Doug McKinney and Mike Stuart worked very hard to get the ship turned in the right direction. First the WVGOP paid off its debt under McKinney. Now Stuart has adroitly connected state Democrats with the sinking ship of Obama in key races.
The next few years needs to bring to West Virginia a true competitive party system.