McConnell attends fundraiser in Wheeling

WHEELING – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate hopeful Shelley Moore Capito were among a small group that attended a private political fundraiser Monday afternoon at River City Ale Works in downtown Wheeling.

The event, attended by about a dozen people, was closed to the media. A strong security presence included Capitol Police officers, Wheeling police officers dressed in coats and ties and at least one State Police cruiser patroling the area.

Capito, who was in New Martinsville earlier Monday for a campaign event hosted by the Sportsmen for Capito group, said having McConnell in Wheeling is a good sign for the state.

“He’s a proven leader, and he’s an advocate for a strong energy policy,” Capito said of McConnell as she entered the business.

McConnell, R-Ky., declined to answer questions either before or after the event.

Capito, who represents West Virginia’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House, is the GOP nominee for the Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. She’s facing Natalie Tennant in November.

Capito pointed out that McConnell’s home state, Kentucky, has much in common with West Virginia. For example, the Mountain State ranks second in the nation in annual coal production, while Kentucky is third.

McConnell, who could be in line to lead the Senate if Republicans gain control in November, has been an outspoken opponent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. He testified against the proposed EPA rules during a series of public hearings held in late July and early August.

McConnell has served in the Senate since 1985, making him the longest-serving senator in Kentucky’s history, and has occupied the minority leader post since 2007. In his bid for a sixth consecutive term, he faces Democrat Alison Grimes.

In this year’s election, Republicans have set their sights on taking control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 2007. To do that, they need to gain six Senate seats, and many political pundits have identified the West Virginia race as a key to that effort.