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US Sen. Elizabeth Warren backs Natalie Tennant campaign

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By JONATHAN MATTISE

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will campaign for Natalie Tennant in West Virginia next month in a push to keep a Democratic Senate seat.

Warren will accompany Tennant in the Eastern Panhandle on July 14 as she rolls out an education agenda. Tennant’s campaign provided trip details to The Associated Press.

A Massachusetts Democrat, Warren has been called a progressive star and potential presidential candidate for 2016, though she says she won’t run.

Recently, Warren led a charge to refinance some student loans by setting minimum tax rates on people making more than $1 million. Senate Republicans blocked the measure, which Democrats have focused on as a pocketbook issue.

Warren is hardly an exact match for Appalachia. Both Republicans and Democrats, including Tennant, largely oppose President Barack Obama’s plans to limit carbon emissions from the coal industry. Warren has supported them.

Tennant is West Virginia’s Secretary of State. The Democrat and Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito are competing for retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s seat. Capito is favored and holds nearly a 4-to-1 cash advantage.

On Monday, Capito’s campaign painted Tennant as flimsy on coal for aligning with Warren.

“Bringing in one of the staunchest opponents of coal and West Virginia’s way of life is just the latest instance of Natalie Tennant’s blatant hypocrisy and disrespect for the people of this state,” Capito spokeswoman Amy Graham said in an email.

Warren responded that she and Tennant don’t agree on everything. The Democrats both think Capito is too closely aligned with large financial institutions.

“Wall Street already has enough Senators looking to advance its interests, and West Virginia deserves a Senator like Natalie who will wake up every morning and go to bed every night focused on how to fight for working families,” Warren said in an emailed statement.

Despite holding environmental views unpopular in coal country, Warren isn’t avoiding the region.

She has vowed to campaign for Democratic Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is challenging Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

President Barack Obama has burdened Democrats campaigning in Kentucky and West Virginia, particularly because of his proposed rules to limit emissions from coal-fired power plants. Grimes also chides the administration over the energy policy.

Warren also is helping Democrat Michelle Nunn raise money for a U.S. Senate bid in Georgia. She faces the winner of a GOP July runoff between David Perdue and Jack Kingston.

Tennant sounded much more aligned on energy issues with her last campaign fly-in.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota crisscrossed West Virginia in April. The two energy state Democrats blasted Obama’s emissions rules.

In Capito’s camp, GOP U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer lent a hand with a fundraising appeal this winter. Fischer became Nebraska’s first female senator last election. Either Capito or Tennant is poised to claim the same feat for West Virginia.


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