Apparently, Robert Byrd is feeling the heat.
Today, WV Blogger and Charleston Daily Mail columnist Don Surber noted that the Republican National Senatorial Committee has determined that the usually safe Byrd seat is in play, and launched a statewide commercial (backup here)aimed at softening Byrd’s support in anticipation of fielding a viable Republican candidate in 2006.
Byrd’s expected opposition, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, was recently trailing Byrd by only 46-43 in a statewide poll. While other polls gave Byrd a much more comfortable lead, as a WV native and lifelong resident, I can tell you, this is a big deal.
Recently, Sen. Byrd has moved to reposition himself as more moderate, signaling tepid support and singing the praises for Bush’s SCOTUS nominee, John Roberts, joining the so-called “Gang of 14,” and stepping up his fundriasing activites (with a little help from some friends, including freshman Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill)).
As the state has gone GOP in the last two Presidential elections, this is not surprising. However, the most telling statement about Byrd’s vulnerability might be this latest action by some of Sen. Byrd’s ‘friends’:
The use of Web sites to promote political candidates, or to engage in jokes, touched West Virginia politics in the past few days.
Late last week, a Web site called www.capito2006.com began instantly switching Internet visitors to the campaign site of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., at www.byrd2006.com.
Capito spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “Certainly Senator Byrd would not want to mislead West Virginians into thinking Shelley Moore Capito has something to do with his 2006 re-election and will do everything in his power to return www.capito2006.com to its proper home on the Internet.”
A quick search on the Internet revealed that the site was reserved back in November 2004 by neither Byrd nor Capito.
Stephen Skinner, a lawyer with Nichols and Skinner LLC, with offices in Charles Town and on Capitol Hill, bought the domain name, then transferred it to Stanton Denman.
Tom Gavin, a spokesman for Byrd, said Byrd’s staff and campaign workers had nothing to do with the Web site.
Friends of Robert C. Byrd quickly blocked capito2006.com from switching over to byrd2006.com, posting a statement: “You have been redirected to this page in error. Someone unknown and unaffiliated with Friends of Robert C. Byrd had been redirecting Web traffic.”
Things are heating up, and it should be a good race to keep your eye on.
Cross posted at Red State.