Popular West Virginia governor Joe Manchin won the Democratic primary yesterday and will square off against successful and deep-pocketed businessman John Raese in the election to fill the Senate seat long held by the late Robert Byrd. As the AP reports, Raese beat out a crowded field of GOP candidates eager to up-end the Democrats' Senate majority, and the election will be critical to both parties.
Manchin enjoys deep support from the coal and utility industries, which may help him surmount GOP attempts to paint him as a rubberstamp for the agenda of President Obama, who failed to carry West Virginia in 2008. Raese owns steel fabrication and limestone companies, as well as media interest in the state, and has pumped a half-million dollars of his own into the campaign thus far. (Read more Robert Byrd stories.)