West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Nick Casey said he's not taking sides in the the1st District congressional Democratic primary between incumbent U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan and his challenger, state Sen. Mike Oliverio.
But Casey does believe it's the beginning of an exciting election year in West Virginia, with the race between Mollohan, D-W.Va., and Oliverio, D-Monongalia, at the top of the local Democratic slate.
"We like primaries," Casey said of the state Democratic party. "But when it's over with, you have to make sure you get back together and support the Democratic nominee.
"Civilized, respectful primaries are good things. You get to see where your candidates are," he added. "If it is a well-disciplined campaign, voters make the best choice as to who is best."
An out-of-state group, the League of American Voters, has launched an attack campaign against Mollohan. Casey, though, sees attack ads coming early in a campaign as a positive.
"They brings out the negative earlier rather than later," he said. "If someone is going to call you names, maybe it's better to call you out earlier than to wait until the general election."
The group has misspelled the first name of Mollohan - a 28-year incumbent - throughout its effort, spelling it "Allan."
"That just proves that whoever they are, they're not from around here," Casey said.
He predicts Mollohan's experience in Washington likely will give him the advantage over Oliverio in the May 11 primary election.
"I see the activities that occur in West Virginia from an economic point of view," Casey said.
"I wonder if they occur because someone has been there 28 years - not six weeks."
And West Virginia's congressional delegation including Mollohan and U.S. Sens. Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va. - is successful because of their long track records, he continued.
"It seems to me that's going to be very tough to beat," Casey added. "Mike Oliverio has always been a good senator. He's very energetic to jump into a primary against a 28-year incumbent. I'm officially neutral, but I see the challenges a challenger has facing the incumbent."