Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito's announcement that she is running for the U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia in 2014 has state political observers buzzing.
The announcement sets up a likely match-up between the Republican and incumbent Democrat Jay Rockefeller.
Granted, the election is two years away. A lot can and will happen between now and then. However, you can already build strong arguments for each of the candidates.
Why Rockefeller wins:
* Money: Rockefeller defeated Republican John Raese 52-48 in 1984, but spent $12 million of his own money to do it. Since then, Rockefeller has stayed out of his own checking account and relied on contributions.
As a long-time senator, Rockefeller will have no problem raising large amounts of cash, and he still has the option of tapping his considerable personal wealth.
* Party registration: The percentage of voters registered with the Democratic Party continues to decline; it's down to 52 percent.
However, there are still more Democrats than Republicans and Independents combined (637,893 Democrats, 354,503 Republicans, 217,585 Independents). Rockefeller just needs to make sure the Democrats who have supported him over the years vote.
* Incumbency: West Virginia voters rarely defeat an incumbent congressman or senator.
First District voters did vote out Democratic Congressman Alan Mollohan two years ago, but an incumbent U.S. senator has not lost an election in West Virginia since 1958.
That year incumbent Republican William Revercomb lost to Robert Byrd and Jennings Randolph defeated Republican John Hoblitzell.
* No Obama: Rockefeller supports President Obama, who is unpopular in West Virginia, but Obama won't be on the top of the ticket in 2014.
Additionally, the economy could have rebounded by then - both across the country and in West Virginia - taking some of the heat off the president and his supporters.
* The Jay factor: Rockefeller has always been a political celebrity in West Virginia. His years of service and his gracious manner have earned him thousands of friends across the state.
Don't underestimate the loyalty Rockefeller has earned during his years as senator and governor.