POLITICS: PennAve

Natalie Tennant fundraiser goes on as planned despite West Virginia's water crisis

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Senate,West Virginia,Campaign Finance,2014 Elections,PennAve,Rebecca Berg,NRSC,DSCC

A fundraising event for Natalie Tennant, the Democratic Senate candidate from West Virginia, will go on as planned Thursday evening in Charleston, W.Va., although thousands of people in that area are still without clean water.

Tennant will attend the event, hosted by the West Virginia Association for Justice, at a hotel in Charleston, the campaign and hotel confirmed Thursday afternoon.

The campaign did not consider canceling the event in light of the chemical leak earlier this month that seeped into the water supply and cut off access to water for more than 100,000 people. Tens of thousands of people are still under orders not to use tap water.

Tennant, the secretary of state, has praised the U.S. attorney for launching an investigation into how the chemical leak occurred, and has volunteered at water distribution centers.

Her likely Republican opponent, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, has called for a congressional hearing on the spill — and bemoaned the water ban on a more personal note recently when she recounted a pipe bursting in her home, flooding its lower level with contaminated water.

For both candidates, their responses to the water crisis have become fodder for political attacks.

"It's difficult to imagine a more out-of-touch politician than Natalie Tennant," said Brook Hougesen, a spokesman with the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Throwing a high-dollar fundraiser while thousands of West Virginia families are still without water takes the out-of-touch cake."

Justin Barasky, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, shot back, "What's out-of-touch is millionaire Shelly Moore Capito offensively claiming her family's been hit harder than most in West Virginia simply because a pipe burst in one of her three homes, then calling on her Washington friends to sling mud at Natalie Tennant who has been fighting for West Virginians throughout this emergency."

In the few public polls released so far, Capito has been solidly ahead of Tennant.

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