RIPLEY, W.Va.— In Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s bid for Senate, Republicans and Democrats frequently cite one major political asset: Her middle name.
It comes from her father, the beloved former Gov. Arch A. Moore, Jr., who brought the Mountain State’s infrastructure and education system into the modern age during his two separate tenures in the 1970s and 1980s.
But Capito’s father also holds a complicated place in West Virginia history. In addition to introducing kindergarten to the state and overseeing a massive Interstate construction project, Moore spent over two years in federal prison. Dale Banball, a retired coal miner and construction worker, said he will vote for Capito because she is “Arch’s” daughter.
“I worked under her dad. We did more road work under him than any governor ever. Just like her dad, she’s good,” he said. “He got his hand in the cookie jar, but he built more roads than any governor we’ve ever had.”
That cookie jar involved five felony corruption convictions in the early 1990s. Moore pleaded guilty but later maintained his innocence.
All that happened nearly 25 years ago, but his name surfaces, unsolicited, among voters on the trail as Capito runs her first statewide campaign. Much of this was litigated years ago, but Capito is making introductions to new voters outside of her 2nd District.
She is the favorite to win the race over her Democratic opponent, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. The race is rated Leans Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
In interviews across the state over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, it’s clear Capito will both win and lose votes because of her father’s legacy.
One registered Democrat, a retired aluminum company employee, said it, “I’m not too fond of Shelley’s background … I know she’s probably her own person, but that’s going to haunt her.”
There’s no doubt that after 13 years in Congress, Capito stands on her own as a political figure. When asked about her father’s legacy at a Fourth of July parade in Ripley, the usually mellow congresswoman showed a firm side.
“I think that my dad has a great legacy in the state. And the folks that don’t like him probably never liked him and never will,” she told CQ Roll Call.
“But you could ask ten people here about something that Arch Moore did. Whether it was a road to the football stadium, completing the Interstates, adding kindergarten, he’s touched a lot of lives,” Capito said.
She shifted her gaze before adding, “and I’m really proud of his legacy.”
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