Sen. Jay Rockefeller of WV, one of the most senior Democrats in the upper chamber, announced Friday he will not seek a sixth term. Rockefeller, a former governor, and heir to the iconic Rockefeller oil fortune, has been one of the most enduring figures on the WV political scene.
The 75-year-old's decision comes at a time when his popularity in a conservative state had been waning for sparring with the powerful mining industry and supporting President Barack Obama. Rockefeller told The Associated Press ahead of his formal announcement that it was time to retire.
Rockefeller's decision will set off a scramble for a seat held by Democrats since 1958. Within weeks of November's elections, Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito vowed to run for the Senate seat in 2014, even if it meant going up against Rockefeller and his storied name. Other Republicans also have been eyeing the seat in recent weeks.
With 55 out of 100 seats Democrats now have a decent-sized Senate majority. But in addition to conservative-leaning WV, Democrats will have to defend seats held in AL, NC and elsewhere that Republicans will no doubt make a play for.
Erin McPike (@ErinMcPike) of Real Clear Politics noted the recent change in a chamber where members have often stayed for decades. "Seniority in the Senate has been slip-sliding away. Lots of newbies and relative newbies running around the Senate side," she tweeted.
Politix reporting and via AP.