Those of us watching the nationally-noticed US Senate race in West Virginia might want to circle Tuesday, Oct. 12, if things keep going in Joe Manchin's direction.
We saw yesterday that the PPP poll showed voters swinging back to the Democratic guv (just three weeks after the same poll showed him shockingly down). What's also notable about the day: opponent John Raese's repeated comments about abolishing the minimum wage, an issue which the Republican for some reason continues to keep on life support in a labor-heavy state.
We (like others who've been watching the state for a while now) didn't pay much attention to the minimum wage comments at first, mostly because Raese (with three statewide runs under his gun belt) has been on the record with that and other controversial opinions for a long time. But this is a nationwide race now (see: Sarah Palin endorsement/Bill Clinton visit) so reporters (and Raese's opponents) were bound to bring them up again.
Here's the industrialist's latest hard-headed words to the AP:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Raese said the federal minimum wage is an outdated and unnecessary concept that should be abolished, while his opponent says the stance shows how out of touch Raese is with working West Virginians.
Raese, a multimillionaire running against Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin, has long said the minimum wage isn't working. It was created by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and Raese called it "archaic" in an interview with ABC News' Top Line posted Tuesday.
"It didn't solve any problems then and it hasn't solved any problems in 50 years," he said.
"The minimum wage is not something that you want to stay on as a permanent basis," Raese continued. "For example, if you have a minimum wage job, you don't stay there 20 or 30 years. You don't put your children through college working on minimum wage."
PS, the DSCC released an internal poll to Politico today claiming Manchin is up 49-45% in the race.
UPDATE: Echoing comments from Nate Silver yesterday, Larry Sabato says Manchin is still in danger of going so far right that he'll lose support from Democrats. From a story by Ry Rivard in the Daily Mail:
But one expert suggested Manchin's efforts to distance himself from President Obama have become dramatic enough that Democratic voters may be put off. Such voters wouldn't necessary vote for Raese or another candidate but might opt to just stay home.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, called Manchin's situation "perilous."
He said Manchin has to hold the Democratic base that still supports Obama while moving right to distinguish himself from the president.
"An Olympic gymnast would have trouble winning the gold for this routine," said Sabato, who has just visited West Virginia to analyze the race. "But that's Manchin's path to victory, and it has become surprisingly narrow.
"I don't think Manchin has gone too far yet, but for every turn he takes to appeal to conservatives, he needs to do something to remind the left and middle that he's a superior choice for them, compared to Raese."
UPDATE 2: Also see this Ras poll taken Oct. 12 that shows the race to be a "near tie."