WHEELING - Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is bringing her Senate campaign to Wheeling today as she kicks off her "West Virginia Works" tour with a two-day stop in the Friendly City to talk about jobs, health care and education with community and business owners.
With the general election three months away, both Capito, R-Charleston, and her opponent, Democrat Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, are spending time this week courting voters in the Northern Panhandle. On Monday, Tennant stopped in Weirton as she kicked off her own tour to discuss ways to combat the state's growing drug abuse epidemic.
Capito will begin her Wheeling tour at 1:30 p.m. today with a discussion at Wheeling Coffee and Spice on 14th Street downtown. After meeting with small business owners there, Capito will visit two local car dealerships, Straub Honda and Toyota at The Highlands and Elm Grove Chrysler Dodge. Her tour resumes at 2 p.m. Wednesday with stops at Ohio Valley Medical Center and Ziegenfelder Ice Cream Co.
"Wheeling is an ideal place to kick off the West Virginia Works tour because it's an area that has seen both ends of the economic spectrum. Wheeling understands what it's like to go through hard economic times with the downturn of the steel industry, and improving economic times with the natural gas industry booming," said Amy Graham, a spokeswoman for Capito's campaign. "Shelley is looking forward to kicking off this tour in an area that is showing signs of economic resurgence in order to hear what is working, what we still need to fix and how we can apply these lessons to the rest of the state."
Capito's campaign didn't provide details for future stops on the tour, but Graham said the Wheeling swing will be the first of many.
Meanwhile, Tennant held a roundtable discussion with representatives of the anti-drug group Never Alone in Weirton on Monday. Campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Donohue said Tennant plans to release a comprehensive drug abuse prevention agenda later this week.
During her stops Monday, which also included Academy Programs in Fairmont, Tennant pointed to several statistics highlighting the growing drug problem. Heroin overdose deaths tripled between 2007 and 2012, she said, while the state's prescription drug overdose mortality rate has increased six-fold since 1999.
"Everywhere I go, I see the promise and possibility of West Virginia. But we can't reach our full potential unless we invest in our greatest resource: our people. The drug abuse crisis does not discriminate - everyone in West Virginia knows someone who has been affected. I'm proud of the work folks are doing across West Virginia already, and it's my job to make sure they have the support they need to win this fight," Tennant said.
Polls continue to show Capito ahead in the race against Tennant. According to Chicago-based polling data aggregator RealClearPolitics, Capito holds a more than nine-point lead, with 49.3 percent to Tennant's 40 percent.