The Times West Virginian

January 20, 2013

Who’s in line after Jay’s retirement announcement?


Times West Virginian

— Something unique happens when a person, who has had a coveted job for 30 years, announces retirement.

All of the sudden, everything stops because the realization is there that the job is up for grabs. Even people who’ve never dreamed of having that job or even vying for it all of the sudden have stars in their eyes and believe it to be possible. And they start making their move for it in a very calculated way.

It’s not just a phenomenon in the business world. It happens within the political realm, too. Only in that world, it’s all public. The speculation. The hints. The signs. And last week, when U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., announced that for “personal, not political” reasons he would not be seeking re-election for his seat in 2014, the ball started rolling.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., had already indicated that she planned to run for the seat, setting off a wave of speculation that Rockefeller felt like he couldn’t compete with the six-term Republican from the state’s 2nd Congressional District. And that’s just speculation. Even if it were true, we still have to take the senator at his word that it has nothing to do with the political landscape of the state or what it may look like within the year. We take his word that after five terms and 30 years serving as the senator from West Virginia, he wants to retire. He deserves that respect.

But, the announcement made waves. No longer was it going to be a Capito-Rockefeller battle. There was going to be a new name attached to that race. Now we still have to go through the 2014 primary, so there’s no guarantee that Capito will make it through the Republican primary to earn the party’s nomination on the 2014 general election ballot. Regardless, Capito is the only one to officially say that she plans to run for the seat.

The Democrats have thus far been silent, turning speculation into wild speculation. Who’s going to make a play for the seat? Their silence may also be out of respect for Rockefeller and his service. Or, it could be that everyone is just waiting for the first announcement to gauge the field. Nobody has said they plan to run. Several have said they’re considering it. The list includes Wheeling-area businessman Ralph Baxter, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, former state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Callaghan and Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis.

None were featured in our poll question last week, found on www.timeswv.com, which asked readers who they thought would be a good candidate.

Here are the ones we highlighted and how you responded.

• U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin — 5.26 percent.

He has yet to announce whether he is interested in the position, but you have to give him a little extension. He just wrapped up the prosecution of a former Upper Big Branch mine superintendent on Thursday, so he’s been a little occupied.

• House Speaker Rick Thompson — 10.53 percent

After the announcement, Thompson’s campaign consultant told “The Hill” that while he was flattered, the lawmaker had no intention of running. Who could blame him, though. The political upheaval in the state for the last three years has been exhausting.

• Carte Goodwin, who briefly served in the Senate following the death of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd — 24.56 percent

Carte hasn’t said yes or no.

“There will be plenty of time for people to make decisions like that,” Goodwin also told “The Hill” last week. “It’s the kind of thing that anybody would be flattered to have their name contemplated for a position like that.”

• Secretary of State Natalie Tennant — 59.65 percent

Tennant has said she would consider it, but again has not officially announced her candidacy. And full disclosure, this poll may be a little stacked, considering that Tennant is a Marion County native. And maybe a lot of Marion Countians would think that having two current U.S. senators from here — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin hails from Farmington while Tennant is from Fairview — would be a good thing.

Well, it’s all up in the air until someone makes it official. And then it will get pretty interesting.

This week, let’s talk about gun control again, now that President Barack Obama has let the nation know his administration’s views on the issue.

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV