City businessman David McKinley beat all opponents, and Mike Oliverio defeated incumbent Alan Mollohan to set up an open seat run off in the general this November. The defeat came as Mollohan was facing more ethics charges. The likely biggest question now is how McKinley can run against Oliverio in a Democratic state? Oliverio campaigned to the right of Mollohan. So, it will be difficult to flank Oliverio on his right and defeat him in the election. It would also be suicide to flank Oliverio to his left. So, McKinley has a campaign difficulty on his hands.
The general consensus is that McKinley will have to run against the establishment Democrats–Pelosi an Reid. That may work to some extent. Oliverio will counter he is his own man and that he would not have voted with his party on health care, etc. However, McKinley’s counter could be that regardless of Oliverio’s assertions on the campaign trail, he will be caucusing with the Democrats and be depending on Pelosi for position and favors. Oliverio could very well change his positions in DC, as many other supposed principled Democrats have done–see Bart Stupak. McKinely may be able to make some ground with that argument, and then ask Oliverio why he is a Democrat in the first place since he does not support his party’s major policy endeavors.
Jobs is going to be an unavoidable issue in this race. The Ohio Valley is dying. It will be interesting to see where the candidates stake their ground in this regard. How is Oliverio, or McKinley, going to “create” jobs? A discussion of taxation will have to be a part of this discussion. A significant part of this discussion will be of something neither candidate can effect from DC–taxation problems in the state are largely a state matter. Thus, both candidates will have to defend their state record on taxation since they both served in a state capacity.
Oliverio has the upper hand here though. McKinley has to depend on Independents and Democrats to cross the isle (so to speak) and vote for him in November. He also has to count on depressed Democrat turnout. Looking at the total vote turnout for each party primary, it is clear which party is most attractive in the 1st district. If Oliverio begins to move left to solidify his base, that could provide an opening for McKinley, but in a heavy Democrat state, and with a perceived corrupt politician, and incumbent, no longer in the race, the advantage is Oliverio’s.