|West Virginia Secretary of State|
|January 19, 2009 - Present|
|Years in position||6|
|Predecessor||Betty Ireland (R)|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||November 4, 2014|
|First elected||November 4, 2008|
|Next general||November 8, 2016|
|High school||North Marion High School|
|Bachelor's||West Virginia University|
|Master's||West Virginia University|
|Date of birth||December 25, 1967|
|Place of birth||Fairview, W.Va.|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Political career
- 3 Elections
- 4 Campaign contributions
- 5 Personal
- 6 Contact information
- 7 Recent News
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
Tennant announced in September 2013 that she would run for election to the U.S. Senate representing West Virginia in 2014. Tennant won the Democratic nomination in the primary on May 13, 2014. Natalie Tennant lost the general election on November 4, 2014.
Prior to her election, Tennant co-owned Wells Media Group LLC, a video production and media training company. She made an unsuccessful bid for governor in the 2011 special election, coming in third in the Democratic primary, with 17.3 percent of the vote.
Tennant was born and raised on a farm in Fairview, West Virginia, to John and Rose Mary Tennant. She is the youngest of seven siblings. Both of her parents and four of her siblings are teachers. Tennant initially studied education at West Virginia University prior to changing her major to journalism. In 1990, she was selected as the first, and to date only, woman to represent WVU as the Mountaineer Mascot.
After graduation, Tennant started her broadcast career working as a television anchor and reporter at WBOY-TV in Clarksburg and WCHS-TV in Charleston. Prior to taking office in January 2009, she and her husband co-owned Wells Media Group LLC, a business that specialized in media training and video production. She also serves on the board of directors for the American Heart Association and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
- Bachelor's degree, journalism, West Virginia University
- Master's degree, corporate & organizational communication, West Virginia University
West Virginia Secretary of State (2009-Present)
Tennant first ran for the office of West Virginia Secretary of State in 2004, losing in the Democratic primary election to Ken Hechler by 1,108 votes. She ran again in 2008 and beat out then-Democratic House of Delegates Majority Leader Joe DeLong and then-West Virginia State Senator Billy Bailey for the Democratic nomination.
In July 2009, the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R), appointed Tennant and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R) as co-chairs of the Standing Committee on Voter Participation. The responsibilities of the organization included: “reviewing NASS partnerships with voter outreach groups and improving communication between states regarding voting practices.”
Tennant's husband, Erik Wells, a Democratic state senator and a U.S. Navy Reserve lieutenant commander, encountered difficulty trying to vote while deployed in Afghanistan. This incident, as well as issues with West Virginia's outdated voting system, caused Tennant to initiate upgrades designed to make office operations more time and cost efficient. Tennant initiated a pilot online program in 2010 that allowed 179 deployed West Virginian servicemen to vote "as easily as if they were shopping on Amazon." The problem with electronic voting went beyond violating a voter's constitutional right to discretion, however. While touring the country on behalf of the internet-voting cause, Tennant was faced with a bigger problem publicized by graduate students at the University of Michigan. They argued that the online voting system was too vulnerable to getting hacked.
In 2012, the Secretary of State’s office issued a Republican primary ballot, which told voters to select 18 at-large delegates to the Republican National Convention when 19 were to be chosen. The error cost West Virginia $148,705 to reprint the ballots and another $64,000 to reprogram the digital voting machines.
Byrd Senate seat
In the wake of the death of Robert C. Byrd, long-time Democratic member of the United States Senate and controversial political figure, both on and off Capitol Hill, the fate of his vacant seat had been left in limbo for over a week. Byrd, who had for a number of years been in frail health, passed away in the early morning hours of Monday, June 28, 2010. At the time of his death, the late-senator had about thirty months left in his term, which expired on January 3, 2013. Under state law, Governor Joe Manchin was given the authority to name an "interim successor until an election can be held." Had Byrd died after Saturday, July 3, 2010, he would have been able to appoint someone to serve the entire balance of the unexpired term.
But even in this regard, there were issues of concern among political scholars, such as when a vacancy could actually be declared. The biggest area of contention, however, was over when a special election could be called. According to the West Virginia Code of Appointments §3-10-4, "If the unexpired term of any office is for a longer period than [30 months], the appointment is until a successor to the office has timely filed a certificate of candidacy, has been nominated at the primary election next following such timely filing and has thereafter been elected and qualified to fill the unexpired term.” The state held its primary in May for the 2010 election cycle and did not hold another for two years.
Later, on the same day as Byrd's death, Secretary of State Tennant argued that "state election law does not allow the state to hold an election to fill Byrd's seat until Election Day on Nov. 6, 2012," though it does authorize the governor to appoint a successor until that time. After a firestorm of protests, she suggested that if the governor wanted to hold the election prior to 2012, then he would have to call for a special session of the state legislature to correct the issue.
- See also: Secretary of State Project
The Center for Public Integrity reported in September 2008 that Tennant received both the endorsement and financial assistance (nearly $1,000) from the Secretary of State Project, a below-the-radar 527 political organization whose purpose is "wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party" through the process of "removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count," namely the office of Secretary of State in many cases.
In 2013, the Secretary of State’s office was late sending out change-of-address materials to election officials, which are sent out every two years to keep election rolls accurate. According to the Harrison County Clerk's office, the materials should have arrived at the end of 2013 to give officials time to send them out before the primary election in May 2014, but some county clerks did not receive the materials until April 2014 or later.
Campaign finance reports
In 2014, a number of West Virginian political candidates were unable to file their campaign finance reports on the Secretary of State’s website due to issues with the online campaign finance reporting system. Tennant said "The company that was hired to update the campaign finance reporting system has not met the standards of my office, has not met the standards of the contract or what West Virginians deserve...They are being held accountable."
Tennant ran in the 2014 election for the U.S. Senate, representing West Virginia. Tennant won the Democratic nomination in the primary on May 13, 2014. She defeated Dennis Melton and David Wamsley. Natalie Tennant lost the general election on November 4, 2014.
|U.S. Senate, West Virginia General Election, 2014|
|Republican||Shelley Moore Capito||62.1%||280,400|
|Mountain||Bob Henry Baber||1.2%||5,481|
|Source: West Virginia Secretary of State|
Democratic primary results
|U.S. Senate, West Virginia Democratic Primary, 2014|
|Source: West Virginia Secretary of State|
Tennant was endorsed by the following:
- U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce
- First Lady Michelle Obama.
- Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
- North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
- Senator Jay Rockefeller
- Senator Joe Manchin
- Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
- Former head of the West Virginia National Guard, Major General Allen Tackett (ret.)
- The West Virginia Education Association
- The West Virginia chapter of American Federation of Teachers
- In a 2013 ad, Tennant criticized her opponent, Shelley Moore Capito, for voting against a mine safety act, a policy supported by other West Virginia delegates. Capito expressed displeasure with Tennant's comments, saying, "I was obviously a little surprised at the vindictive nature she came right out of the box against me. I’ve got a lot going on here and I’ve been doing this a long time. So I’m going to stick with my strategy. I always take the high road."
|Capito v. Tennant|
|Poll||Shelley Moore Capito (R)||Natalie Tennant (D)||Undecided||Margin of Error||Sample Size|
September 30-October 1, 2014
|The West Virginia Poll
August 15-23, 2014
|The West Virginia Poll
May 26, 2014
April 22-27, 2014
February 19-20, 2014
January 29-30, 2014
September 24-25, 2013
|Public Policy Polling|
September 19-22, 2013
|Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org|
Tennant defended her seat in the 2012 election. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and defeated Republican challenger Brian Savilla in the general election on November 6, 2012. Savilla is a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.
|West Virginia Secretary of State General Election, 2012|
|Democratic||Natalie Tennant Incumbent||62.4%||339,235|
|Election Results West Virginia Secretary of State Election Results Center.|
West Virginia was not scheduled to hold a gubernatorial election until 2012; however, elected Democrat Joe Manchin gave up the seat to join the U.S. Senate in the 2010 midterms. Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, also a Democrat, took over the office because West Virginia does not have a lieutenant governor.
Disputed election date
In early 2011, a Supreme Court battle ensued about when to elect the next Governor of West Virginia.
Citizen Action Group and local attorney Thorton Cooper said the state Constitution and state code disagree, and argued that a special election for governor should be held. Attorneys for acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and House Speaker Richard Thompson disagreed on whether an election should be called. Secretary of State Tennant‘s legal counsel took a neutral position.
Kathryn Bayless, counsel for CAG, said only the court could require the Legislature and Tomblin to act and that an election was needed as soon as possible. Bayless argued that article 7 section 16 of the Constitution is clear, and that there “shall” be a “new” election for governor in event of an absence.
“The people of West Virginia want a new election, and that is what the Constitution provides for,” Bayless said.
“What would you have us do in respect to President Tomblin and the Speaker,” asked Justice Brent Benjamin. “What would you have us mandate those two individuals do? You have us mandate those two individuals to legislate?”
“No sir, I would mandate a new election be conducted as soon as practical, and I believe the court has the authority to do that,” Bayless said.
Speaking about her 2011 gubernatorial platform, Tennant endorsed using severance taxes from the Marcellus Shale for technology and education, and she also expressed a willingness to enact more regulations and environmental guidelines surrounding the shale.
|Gubernatorial Democratic Primary election|
|Democratic Party||Earl Ray Tomblin||40.37%|
|Democratic Party||Jeffrey Kessler||5.30%|
|Democratic Party||Arnie Moltis||0.38%|
|Democratic Party||John D. Perdue||12.54%|
|Democratic Party||Natalie Tennant||17.30%|
|Democratic Party||Richard Thompson||24.11%|
|2008 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary|
|Democratic Party||Natalie Tennant||51.4%|
|Democratic Party||Joe DeLong||35.8%|
|Democratic Party||Billy Wayne Bailey||12.8%|
On November 4, 2008, Natalie Tennant won election to the office of West Virginia Secretary of State. She defeated Charles Theophilus Minimah (R) in the general election.
|West Virginia Secretary of State, 2008|
|Republican||Charles Theophilus Minimah||34.5%||230,283|
|Election Results Via: West Virginia Secretary of State|
In 2004, Tennant ran unsuccessfully for West Virginia Secretary of State, losing the Democratic primary to Ken Hechler by 1,108 votes.
|2004 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary|
|Democratic Party||Ken Hechler||25.7%|
|Democratic Party||Natalie Tennant||25.3%|
|Democratic Party||Mike Oliverio||20.2%|
|Democratic Party||Roger Pritt||15.7%|
|Democratic Party||Larrie Bailey||6.8%|
|Democratic Party||Donna J. Acord||3.6%|
|Democratic Party||George Daugherty||2.7%|
Comprehensive donor information for Tennant is available dating back to 2004. Based on available campaign finance records, Tennant raised a total of $624,940 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 7, 2013.
|Natalie Tennant (2014) Campaign Finance Reports|
|Report||Date Filed||Beginning Balance||Total Contributions|
for Reporting Period
|Expenditures||Cash on Hand|
|October Quarterly||October 15, 2013||$0.00||$153,421.00||$(2,354.80)||$151,066.20|
|Year-End||March 24, 2014||$151,066.20||$646,776.52||$(194,026.46)||$603,816.26|
|April Quarterly||April 15, 2014||$603,816.26||$794,334.11||$(307,712.53)||$1,090,437.84|
|Pre-Primary||May 1, 2014||$1,090,437.84||$152,185.49||$(91,159.24)||$1,151,464.09|
|July Quarterly||July 14, 2014||$1,151,464.09||$624,616.23||$(259,672.51)||$1,516,407.81|
|October Quarterly||October 15, 2014||$1,516,407.81||$940,895.94||$(1,324,886.33)||$1,132,417.42|
Tennant won re-election to the position of West Virginia Secretary of State in 2012. During that election cycle, Tennant raised a total of $37,915.
|West Virginia Secretary of State 2012 election - Campaign Contributions|
|Top contributors to Natalie Tennant's campaign in 2012|
|West Virginia AFL-CIO||$2,000|
|West Virginia Building & Construction Trades Council||$2,000|
|International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers||$2,000|
|West Virginia Federation of Teachers||$2,000|
|Total Raised in 2012||$37,915|
|Total Votes received in 2012||339,235|
|Cost of each vote received||$0.11|
|Source:Follow the Money|
Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Natalie Tennant's donors each year. Click [show] for more information.
|Natalie Tennant's Campaign Contributions|
West Virginia Secretary of State
|Total Raised by General Election Opponent||$13,937|
|Top 5 contributors||American Electric Power||$2,000|
|Sunnygail Stowers and Lyle Stowers||$2,000 each|
|Lena Shell and Robert Shell, Jr.||$2,000 each|
|Lora Johnstone and Kent Carper||$2,000|
|Mary Prim and Michael Kieschnick||$2,000|
Secretary of State
Building 1, Suite 157-K
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305-0770
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Natalie + Tennant + West + Virginia"
- All stories may not be relevant to this candidate due to the nature of the search engine.
- United States Senate
- United States Senate elections in West Virginia, 2014
- West Virginia Secretary of State
- Governor of West Virginia
- Lieutenant Governor of West Virginia
- Attorney General of West Virginia
- West Virginia secretary of state election, 2012
- West Virginia special gubernatorial election, 2011
- Earl Ray Tomblin
- Senate campaign website
- Natalie Tennant's Secretary of State office website
- Social media:
- Executive actions:
- Financial (federal level):
- Financial (state level):
- Interest group ratings:
- Issue positions:
- Public statements:
- Works by or about:
- Media appearances:
- Media coverage:
- PBS interview with Tennant on internet voting, February 16, 2012
- Campaign contributions by year: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2004
- West Virginia Secretary of State, "Biography," accessed April 29, 2013
- West Virginia Secretary of State, "Election results center," accessed April 29, 2013
- The Register Herald, "Natalie Tennant - Secretary of state promotes women's role in W.Va.," March 17, 2013
- The Hill, "W.Va. Senate race gets interesting," accessed September 16, 2013
- Associated Press, "West Virginia - Summary Vote Results," May 13, 2014
- NatalieTennant.com, "Meet Natalie," accessed May 7, 2014
- WOWK Channel 13, "Secretary of State Natalie Tennant Appointed Co-Chair of National Committee," July 21, 2009
- WVNS-TV, "Tennant Announces Candidacy for Governor," January 18, 2010 (dead link)
- PBS.org, "Internet Voting: Will Democracy or Hackers Win?," February 16, 2012
- "News and Sentinel", "West Virginia to pay for ballot mistake," 5/23/12
- "Small Town News", "Secretary Of States Office To Pay More Than $200K For Ballot Blunder," 5/24/12
- Yahoo! News, "West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd dead at 92," June 28, 2010 (dead link)
- Politico, "West Virginia law murky on Robert Byrd succession," June 29, 2010
- West Virginia Watchdog, "Effort to Appoint Byrd Replacement Turning Into Game of Clue," June 28, 2010
- West Virginia Secretary of State, "West Virginia Code of Appointments" (dead link)
- Washington Post, "Byrd special election to be held in 2012," June 28, 2010
- The Charleston Gazette, "McGraw ready to give opinion on Byrd successor -- if asked," July 5, 2010
- Boston Herald, "Natalie Tennant seeks to clarify W.Va.’s succession law," July 3, 2010
- Center for Public Integrity: Paper Trial Blog, "Election '08: Scoring Secretary of State Seats for Dems," September 8, 2008
- American Spectator, "SOS in Minnesota," November 8, 2008
- "Exponent Telegram", "Pre-election blame game," accessed July 13, 2014
- "Charleston Daily Mail", "Tennant: Vendor to blame for website issues," April 29, 2014
- The Hill, "W.Va. Senate race gets interesting," accessed September 16, 2013
- New York Times, "West Virginia Democrats Face an Uneasy Time," December 28, 2013
- Politico, "West Virginia Senate race 2014: Natalie Tennant seeks distance from Obama, coal policy," September 17, 2013
- U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, "US Women's Chamber Endorses Natalie Tennant for U.S. Senate as the Clear Choice for Women's Economic Priorities," accessed September 19, 2014
- Charleston Daily Mail, "Michelle Obama backs Natalie Tennant in US Senate race," November 22, 2013
- Charleston Daily Mail, "US Sen. Elizabeth Warren backs Natalie Tennant campaign," June 23, 2014
- 'NatalieTennant.com, "Meet Natalie," accessed October 21, 2014
- Politico, "Shelley Moore Capito: Natalie Tennant roll-out ‘vindictive’," accessed September 23, 2013
- West Virginia Secretary of State, "Election Results," accessed November 6, 2012
- "W.Va. Supreme Court Hears Arguments for Gubernatorial Special Election", West Virginia Watchdog, January 12, 2011
- 'The Register-Herald, "Gubernatorial candidate profiles: Democrat Natalie Tennant," April 25, 2011 (dead link)
- West Virginia Secretary of State, "2008 Democratic Primary Election Results"
- "Register-Herald," "Secretary of state promotes women's role in W.Va.," March 17, 2013
- West Virginia Secretary of State, "2004 Democratic Primary Election Results" (dead link)
- FollowtheMoney.org, "Career fundraising for Natalie Tennant," accessed May 7, 2013
- Federal Election Commission, "Tennant 2014 Summary reports," accessed November 26, 2013
- Federal Election Commission, "October Quarterly", accessed November 26, 2013
- Federal Election Commission, "Year-End," accessed May 7, 2014
- Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly," accessed May 7, 2014
- Federal Election Commission, "Pre-Primary," accessed June 19, 2014
- Federal Election Commission, "July Quarterly," accessed July 31, 2014
- Federal Election Commission, "October Quarterly," accessed October 22, 2014
- Washington Free Beacon, "Democrat Natalie Tennant Received Thousands from Liberal Megadonors," May 20, 2014
- Roll Call," "EMILY’s List Endorses West Virginia Senate Candidate," September 26, 2013
- Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Betty Ireland (R)
|West Virginia Secretary of State
2009 - present
| Succeeded by|