CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A few brief answers to some seemingly obvious questions:
Why is it so hard to find good candidates for U.S. Senate and congressional seats? The Dems can't find a viable candidate to oppose Shelley Moore Capito for U.S. Senate or to challenge David McKinley in the 1st Congressional District.
Likewise, the GOP is having trouble finding a slam-dunk candidate to run for Capito's vacated 2nd District seat, even though Larry Sabato lists the district as "likely Republican," and has resorted to trying to get state Sen. Evan Jenkins to turn Republican to face a vulnerable Nick Rahall in the 3rd.
Actually, the problem is that the question is worded wrong. The question should be, in this current political atmosphere, why would anyone in their right mind want to put themselves through a congressional campaign?
Unless you're a Rockefeller, in the Citizens United era, you can be certain whatever amount of campaign funds you raise, you'll be outspent by the DCCC or NRCC (or the Senate committee counterparts), not to mention being subject to endless attack ads from any number of independent expenditure organizations.
Likewise, unless you're an established office-holder or politician whose background has been thoroughly vetted, new candidates can expect to have their life histories scoured by political operatives looking for the smallest missteps to turn into attack ad fodder.
On top of that, if you go through the entire costly, demoralizing process and win, your reward is membership in the most hostile, dysfunctional Congress in memory.
Is the state Democratic Party fragmented? Yes, but it has been for years. Lacking a viable minority party in much of the state for many years, Democrats have formed factions within the party: Liberal, pro-labor; moderate, pro-business; and conservatives who are philosophically aligned with the GOP, but run as Democrats out of political expediency.
And, of course, the state party's role in recruiting and backing candidates is entirely diminished in modern-day campaigns, driven by campaign ads and high-priced consultants. That's particularly true in congressional races.
Should anyone be surprised that Patrick Morrisey is pursuing a right-wing agenda, including investigating abortion clinics, and dismantling his office's consumer protection division? Not if they were paying attention.
Many voters were so focused on retiring longtime Attorney General Darrell McGraw that they didn't think through the consequences of electing Morrisey.
A quick glance of campaign contributors makes clear those donors weren't banking on Morrisey to continue McGraw's legacy of strong consumer protection and willingness to take on big pharmaceutical companies for price-fixing.