The Democratic Governors Association, meanwhile, is taking the race seriously. Its ad campaign, combined with Tomblin’s, will outpace the combined Republican-paid media campaign this week and next, a Democratic source points out. And Tomblin has built the right coalition for a West Virginia Democrat: He has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the state AFL-CIO, and the National Rifle Association.
Democrats are attacking Maloney as a businessman who moved his company out of state to avoid in-state taxes, and who lived in a palatial mansion in Georgia. If Tomblin takes to the rifle range to begin shooting up Democrats’ jobs plan, it might be further evidence that the race is tightening.
Arizona's February Monkey Wrench
Leave it to the state that gave us John McCain the maverick to step in and screw up both parties' carefully laid plans. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's announcement this week that the Copper State will hold its primary on February 28 threatens a delicate balance struck between senior members of the Republican and Democratic National Committees that was aimed at bringing some sanity to a front-loaded presidential primary calendar.
Republicans were pleased that Brewer backed off an initial threat to hold Arizona's primary on January 31. With Iowa tentatively scheduled to hold its caucuses on February 6 and New Hampshire's primary slated for February 14, a contest in January would have caused another rush to the earliest part of the year.
While Arizona's move could have been worse, it raises the prospect that Florida could still move their primary well into February, thus endangering both sides' best laid plans to spend the holidays at home with their families. Already, Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon has said he is determined to put his state's primary before Arizona. South Carolina Republican Party chairman Chad Connelly said his state would move their first-in-the-South primary up from its tentative February 28 date.
The result looks likely to be another rush to the front. Because Iowa holds a party-run caucus and New Hampshire's primary is set at the sole discretion of Secretary of State Bill Gardner, both states could move their contests back into January if they feel their place at the front of the pack is being encroached upon.
After 2008, when candidates were forced to campaign throughout the 2007 holidays because of early January contests in the first two states, both parties wanted to push primaries back. RNC and DNC members worked together to establish early state dates in February, with a designated "window" opening for every other state in early March. Republicans have spent months in careful negotiations with Florida GOP officials after the Sunshine State threatened to hold their own contest in February.
The biggest loser: Nevada. After both parties gave Nevada the opportunity to hold its caucuses before any other Western State, both sides have been disappointed in the apparent lack of interest the state's political class has shown in taking up the early contest mantle. This year, no candidate has given Nevada the attention that Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or even Florida has received.
"We had a golden opportunity just kind of put in our laps in 2008, and I don't think we recognized as a state just how important that was," Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller said in an interview. "I don't see the kind of energy necessary on the Republican side" to make Nevada a key contest, he said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this column mischaracterized Thomas Carper’s comments about the jobs bill.
This article appears in the Sep. 15, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily.