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Capito announces run for U.S. Senate

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November 29, 2012

West Virginia

By Phil Sletten

CHARLESTON, West Virginia: Second Congressional District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R) announced that she would run for the seat in the United States Senate currently held by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D). Rockefeller was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, and Capito just won her seventh term as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Rockefeller is up for re-election in 2014, but he has not yet announced whether he will seek another term. Rockefeller is 75 years old, and Capito is 59.[1]

Capito cited her frustration with the slow pace of progress in the U.S. Senate as reason to run for the seat. She said that she would focus on energy, health care, and spending in the campaign.[2]

Rockefeller and Capito talked about her plans to run for U.S. Senate last week. Capito said that Rockefeller did not seem surprised. Rockefeller did not comment on the race, saying in a statement that his ."..total focus right now is on the national budget situation and the fight for West Virginia families - making sure the very wealthy finally start paying their fair share again, for the first time in decades, rebuilding a strong middle class, and creating real opportunity for those who are still struggling."[1]

Capito had been encouraged to run for governor or for the Senate in recent election cycles, including against longtime Senator Robert Byrd (D) in 2006.[2] In the U.S. House, Capito is considered a "moderate Republican leader," according to GovTrack.[3] The West Virginia Republican Party responded favorably to Capito's announcement and released a statement critical of Senator Rockefeller's tenure. However, the conservative Club for Growth criticized Capito's record in the House as too supportive of government excess.[1]

West Virginia Wesleyan Professor Robert Rupp, who studies political science, was quoted by MetroNews Talkline as saying that he thinks a Rockefeller-Capito race might be a hard-fought, close race.[4]

West Virginia last elected a Republican U.S. senator in 1956. However, President Barack Obama (D) was the first major-party presidential candidate in West Virginia history to fail to win a plurality in any of the state's counties, suggesting potential problems for Democratic candidates in the state.[5]

Capito's father, Arch Moore, was something of a repeat political rival Jay Rockefeller. Rockefeller ran against Moore in 1972 when Moore was Governor of West Virginia. Rockefeller lost that first race, but won when he ran against Moore in 1980. When Rockefeller ran for U.S. Senate in 1984, Moore ran for the governorship and reclaimed it.[1]

This early announcement by Capito is not unique; a Republican former governor of South Dakota has also already announced his intention to run against Democratic Senator Tim Johnson in 2014.[6]

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