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Energy state Dems in Senate races split from Obama

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 16, 2014 at 12:48 pm •  Published: April 16, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Natalie Tennant is scrapping to keep a West Virginia Senate seat Democratic, even as the state moves sharply to the right. And she's hoping her defense of the state's coal industry will separate her from unpopular President Barack Obama.

It's a proven strategy for Democrats in Republican-leaning energy states. West Virginia's senators, Joe Manchin and retiring Jay Rockefeller, and colleagues Mark Begich in Alaska, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, have won in states where Obama lost and remains unpopular.

The question is whether that's enough for Democrats to maintain a tenuous Senate majority.

Republicans need to gain six seats to win control of the Senate. GOP Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, backed by the state's coal industry, is favored over Tennant, West Virginia's secretary of state.