CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Voters in the middle slice of West Virginia can't say they don't have a choice for Congress.
Incumbent Republican Shelley Moore Capito and her challenger, Democrat Howard Swint, part ways on these issues: the expiration of the Bush tax cut, the continuation of the federal health care act, the effect of federal environmental policies on West Virginia, regulation of the banking industry and whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would make a better president.
Swint, a Charleston commercial real estate broker, is looking to unseat Capito, who is seeking her seventh term in the U.S. House.
Both said Congress needs to act to boost the stagnant national economy and reduce the $16 trillion national debt.
Capito said Washington gridlock has created a lot of uncertainty for job creators, who are leery of hiring new people before knowing what the tax and regulatory environment will be like in coming years.
As a founder of the Congressional Civility Caucus, Capito said she has a record of being able to work across party lines to pass legislation. She said that attitude would be key in moving the country forward.
"We absolutely have got to lay down the arms and get things done," she said.
Swint said Capito has contributed to the partisan gridlock and should be held accountable for it.
"If you're happy with the way things are in Congress, you should send Shelley Moore Capito back to Congress," Swint said.
He also said Capito supported many of President George W. Bush's fiscal policies, which played a large role in increasing the national debt.
"In a strange twist, I believe the Democratic nominee is the most fiscally conservative, good government candidate for the Second Congressional District," Swint said.
While they disagreed on specifics of environmental policy, both candidates agreed that Congress, not the EPA, needs to take the lead in setting national environmental policy.
Capito said issues like cross-state pollution regulations, and caps on other emissions should be under Congressional review.
"We are supposed to legislate this," she said. "These are decisions that are to be made in Congress, not by an administrative cabinet position - that is where I have a problem."
Swint agreed with that point.
"It is Congress's jurisdiction to create that law," he said. "I consider it an overreach when the executive branch makes laws - I'm a Constitutional purist in that point."
But he did say that laws like the Clean Water and Clean Air acts have had a tremendous benefit for the Kanawha Valley. He also supports EPA efforts to reduce mercury and toxic air emissions, and the agency's efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Capito and Swint also agreed that market forces - driven in part by cheap, ample sources of natural gas - have caused the state's coal economy to suffer.
Swint said there still will be long-term demand for coal used to make steel.
"As long as we have a good metallurgical market for coal, we will have a future for the coal industry in West Virginia," he said.