Republicans got a gift on Friday when Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who has been in Washington since 1985, announced that he would not seek another term in 2014:
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, the five-term Democrat from West Virginia, opening up a potential seat for Republicans to grab in the next round of Congressional contests.
“As I approach 50 years of public service in West Virginia, I’ve decided that 2014 will be the right moment for me to find new ways to fight for the causes I believe in and to spend more time with my incredible family,” Rockefeller said in a statement.
“Championing those most in need has been my life’s calling, and I will never stop fighting to make a difference for the people who mean so much to me,” he continued.
First elected in 1984, Rockefeller is the chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and also holds a seat on the select intelligence, taxation, and veterans’ affairs panels.
Republicans haven’t had a lot of luck in federal elections West Virginia, presidential races notwithstanding. Democrats have held both of the Senate seats since 1959, though Republican candidates haven’t been that great. While Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who has already declared her candidacy, hopes to turn the tide, she may face stiff primary competition and opposition from grassroots organizations.
For example, the Club for Growth slammed Capito in November after she announced her candidacy, noting that she “has a long record of support of bailouts, pork, and bigger government.”
Looking at some of her numbers from conservative groups, it would seem that Capito is, well, a squish. The Club for Growth gave her a 44% in 2011 and a 49% lifetime score. While she has a 61% lifetime score from FreedomWorks, Capito’s score from the last Congress was a despressingly low 29%. She received a 60% from the American Conservative Union in their most recent ratings. And the National Taxpayers Union gave her a 66%.
Let’s hope a credible, electable fiscal conservatives comes along in West Virginia who can take down Capito. The last thing we need in the Senate is another Lindsey Graham/Saxby Chambliss Republican over there.