Rob Rupp on Rabel Casey Mooney Jones Race: Watch Volatile Eastern Panhandle Independents

Don’t overlook West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle independents in the four way race for Congress between Democrat Nick Casey, Republican Alex Mooney, Libertarian Davy Jones and Independent Ed Rabel.

That’s the take of West Virginia Wesleyan Professor Robert Rupp.

Rupp was on Hoppy Kercheval’s statewide Metronews Talkline radio program this morning.

“We are talking about the Second Congressional District,” Rupp said “And the most important player this year in the Second District is the Eastern Panhandle. There are a lot of independents over there. There are a lot of new people coming in that area.”

“And you got this slick news person (Rabel) who is coming back — he’s a comebacker, which is powerful in West Virginia and he’s delivering a populist message and he’s doing it in the Panhandle,” Rupp said. “I’ll be glad when the elections over, because I’ll be able to tell you how it all worked out. Right now I can’t.”

Rupp said that in a race with Mooney (“a tea party conservative”) and Casey (“a Democrat trying to moderate”) — “what is left out is that 20 percent to 25 percent of very liberals in this state who don’t feel as if they are being represented.”

“That’s one thing — he has a base to tap into,” Rupp said.

“Two — he’s very dynamic,” Rupp said. “My bet is that when there is a debate between the three, we’re going to pick him as the winner — because he’s very articulate.”

“And third, and perhaps most important of all is that he has this populist message. There are a lot of angry people who are upset. This is the year of anti-incumbent. At least for a segment of the population, that populist rhetoric is going to make a difference. Is it going to win? No, but will it mobilize voters? Yes.”

Rupp said that an independent winning in West Virginia hasn’t happened in the past.

“The scenario is that the strong independent gets as much as 20 percent or 25 percent two weeks before the election and then in the last fourteen days they just crash, because people say — do I really want the other person to win?”


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