by Malia Rulon
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHARLESTON -- Although Republican Shelley Moore Capito's victory in the 2nd District gives West Virginia a split congressional delegation for the first time in nearly two decades, her predecessor said that doesn't matter.
"If she wants it, I can give her some advice," U.S. Rep. and Gov.-elect Bob Wise said Wednesday. "There are no Democrats or Republicans the day after the election. We all work for the taxpayers."
Capito's new Democratic colleagues welcomed her to the fold Wednesday, saying having a Republican on the delegation wouldn't affect them either.
"Her victory certainly has not changed my agenda for West Virginia," said U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, who won his 12th term Tuesday after facing only token opposition.
"I will most certainly work with her in a bipartisan fashion in those areas where we can best benefit West Virginia," he said Wednesday.
Capito's win helped the GOP maintain control Tuesday of the U.S. House 220-211, with two races outstanding.
Rep. Alan Mollohan, who easily won his ninth term Tuesday, said he is looking forward to meeting Capito and getting to know her position on issues.
"I congratulate her on her win; that's the first thing to say. I'm disappointed Jim Humphreys didn't win. And the third thing to say is we look forward to working with her," he said.
With complete but unofficial returns Wednesday, Capito had 48 percent of the vote compared to Democrat Jim Humphreys' 46 percent. The difference was 5,603 votes.
Libertarian John Brown trailed with 6 percent of the vote.
"We came up short," Humphreys said in a statement Wednesday. "I want to thank my supporters who have worked diligently throughout the 20 counties on my behalf. ... I would also like to extend my best wishes to Ms. Capito in the upcoming Congress."
The former state senator, who spent Wednesday with his wife, two children and dog at his family's Charleston home, said he doesn't plan to contest the race and hasn't decided if he'll run again.
"The volume of the negative ads has been so great and the affect on my family has been so intense. It's something I don't know if they want to go through again," he said.
Humphreys, a Charleston lawyer, outspent Capito about 6-1, pouring more than $6 million of his own money into the race, which ranked as one to the top three most expensive races in the nation.
National Republican and Democratic parties also funneled money into the battleground race for the control of Congress that many voters complained became overly negative as it saturated air waves with dozens of commercials.
As to whether Humphreys regrets spending so much money, he said, "I've been very fortunate in my law practice and I've made enough money to make my family financially secure and I can't think of any job that I'd rather have than representing the people of West Virginia and being their spokesman."
Capito, who spent Tuesday night with her family and supporters at a victory party that petered out hours before the 2nd District race was called, said she is humbled and grateful that her fellow West Virginians have placed their trust in her.
"I think my messages of economic security, seniors and education, and the fact that I represent a change in the delegation really resonated with voters," Capito said. "I also think that people felt after seeing me and hearing me and maybe even getting to shake my hand that they could trust me to go to Washington."
Capito's come-from-behind victory triggers an upset in heavily Democratic West Virginia, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.
"In all honesty, I overcame huge hurdles in terms of registration and money and all kinds of difficulties, but we just kept our heads down and kept plugging," Capito said.
Capito, a mother of three, ran a high-energy campaign that stressed meeting and greeting as many voters as possible in the diverse district that spans 350 miles through 20 counties across the center of West Virginia.
Capito is West Virginia's first female congressional representative since Elizabeth Kee took her late husband's seat in the 1950s. She also follows in the footsteps of her father, former Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr., who spent six terms in the U.S. House.
Brown said he was not disappointed in his Libertarian candidacy, which garnered 12,378 votes, or 6 percent.
"I do not know how anyone can be disappointed with standing up for what one believes," he said, adding that Capito was his "second choice."
U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd overcame token opposition to win his eighth term, making him one of the nation's longest serving senators. He was traveling through southern West Virginia Wednesday and not immediately available for comment.