Sen. Jay Rockefeller Will Not Run For Re-Election In 2014
The 2014 elections are more than a year away, but we’ve already gotten the first retirement announcement of the new cycle:
Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller will not run for reelection in 2014, passing up a bid for a sixth term and putting in play a Senate seat in deep red West Virginia.
In an interview with POLITICO, Rockefeller — the chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and one of the most senior Senate Democrats — said he had been wrestling with the question of whether to run again since October but had not made up his mind to retire until very recently.
“I’m going to serve out my term,” the 75-year-old Rockefeller said. “It was a very hard decision for me. Once it’s made, like any hard decision, it eases up. But it was a very tough decision for me.”
Rockefeller is scheduled to make a formal announcement at 11 a.m. back home in West Virginia.
Rockefeller said he decided to go public with his retirement now — one that is sure to shake up the 2014 Senate landscape — because it felt like the right move and because he didn’t want months of public speculation over his political future.
“It’s part of my nature,” Rockefeller said. “One is, I think that always in me, I want to do things — if I have a statement to make or an announcement that has at least some consequence to it — I want to do it in the way that I want to do it, at the time that I want to do it, with the words that I want to use.
“I do it now because I’d just rather clear the air and just get on with things,” he added.
Rockefeller acknowledged that Democrats will have a hard time holding onto his West Virginia Senate seat, but he insisted that he wasn’t leaving because of fear of any GOP challenger or fear that he wouldn’t win next year.
“Political opposition, I never worried about that,” Rockefeller insisted. “It’s not a part of this. It was easy enough not to have to worry about that.”
While it’s early, this is a potential pick up for the GOP largely because of the conservative bent that West Virginia has taken in recent years. The most likely Republican candidate would be Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito, who has represented the state’s 2nd Congressional District for more than a decade now and who has previously flirted with the idea of running statewide both for Robert Byrd’s old Senate seat and for Governor.