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Democrat Joins Race for Capito Seat, Slaps DCCC

After officially announcing last week that he will challenge state Sen. John Unger in the Democratic primary in West Virginia’s 2nd district, attorney Thornton Cooper (D) acknowledged Wednesday that he faces a “very uphill battle,” even before he gets to the general election against four-term Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R).

Unger’s entry into the race over the summer was widely considered to be a recruiting coup for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But Cooper, who hails from south Charleston and is a member of the Kanawha County Democratic Executive Committee, said Wednesday that he’s extremely disappointed that the DCCC was so quick to get behind Unger before a primary was allowed to develop in the district.

“They decided who they wanted to anoint to be the Democratic Party nominee,” said Cooper, who is spending about $10,000 of his own money on the race and says he won’t be contributing to the DCCC this cycle. “There’s no reason for them to get involved. … They should restrict themselves to supporting the people who win the primaries.”

Cooper — a former state public service commissioner who is running on a platform that includes raising the minimum wage, providing universal health care and getting U.S. troops out of Iraq as soon as possible — said that with the eastern panhandle of the district becoming a growing Republican area, “somebody from Kanawha County or a county adjacent to it has a much better chance of beating Ms. Capito.”

Kyra Jennings, a spokeswoman for the DCCC, said the committee will let voters decide who is the strongest challenger, but added, “So far, we’ve been impressed by Senator John Unger’s strong grass-roots support and his backing by state and local leaders.”

— John McArdle

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