Typically, when a highly sought-after political seat opens up, potential candidates line up for their opportunity to run.  So you would think that with Senator Jay Rockefeller’s early announcement that he’s not running for re-election in 2014, Democratic candidates would be scrambling for position.

After all, the state’s two senate seats have been blue since the 1958 election.  The late Robert Byrd and Jennings Randolph, along with Rockefeller and now Joe Manchin—all Democrats—have kept those positions warm, safe and dry for their party.

Consider also that the Democratic Party still holds a 52 percent to 29 percent voter registration advantage over Republicans (19 percent are independent or third party).

What’s not to love about being a Rockefeller heir?

But the royal lineage has petered out, at least for now, as the Democratic Party scratches from its list of possible successors one name after another.  The latest to take her name out of contention is state Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis.

When asked on Metronews Talkline yesterday if she was considering a run, Davis gave an unequivocal “absolutely not.”  Yes, she had gotten phone calls and emails from Dems wanting her to run and, yes, party power brokers in Washington had talked to her, but Davis says she loves the law and likes her job.

Case closed.

So Davis joins Congressman Nick Rahall, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, Charleston attorney Carte Goodwin (Booth Goodwin’s first cousin), Nick Preservati, who is also a Charleston lawyer, Wheeling attorney Ralph Baxter, and former Governor Gaston Caperton as some of the potentially viable candidates who have ruled out a Senate run.

What happened to the Democratic bench?

Years of political logjam at the top of the Democratic Party in West Virginia blocked potential candidates from pursuing a prized Senate seat.  Over the last half century, Rockefeller only ascended after Randolph retired and Manchin moved up only after Byrd died.

Meanwhile, aspiring Democratic candidates settled in down ballot where they grew accustomed to automatic nominations and benefited from popular vote-getters at the top of the ticket.

Party leaders say there’s still plenty of time to find someone to take on Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito for Rockefeller’s seat.  But time is not the issue, at least not yet.  The bigger problem is that the pool of potential candidates is getting smaller by the week.

Democratic leaders in West Virginia and in Washington are holding out hope that Secretary of State Natalie Tennant will enter the race.  Tennant remains non-committal publicly, but is believed to be seriously considering it.

Also, retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett is pondering the possibility of a Senate run.   Tackett, who built a statewide reputation as the gung-ho leader of the state’s National Guard, was a close friend of Byrd’s.

Either could be a viable candidate. But the prospect of an expensive and high-stakes campaign against a tough, well-financed opponent in a race with national implications is daunting.  The list of potential Democratic candidates who have chosen not to run makes that point abundantly clear.

 

 

 

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Comments

  • wirerowe

    As an aside.. Charlie Cook a political analyst has a series of charts that show that the american public in generic ballots generally supports democrats over republicans. The charts also show that the American public by a relatively good margin are opposed to the Affordable Health Care act and independents are opposed by a margin of 2 to 1. that is why the President postponed the small business mandates till after November 2014. The republicans have a legitimate shot at the Senate and the Affordable Health care act will be a major issue. On topic Senators are in Washington for so long that there may be only one opening every 20 years or so. I don't think that the democrat cupboard is that bare. I just believe that Senator Manchin is the only democrat out there that could beat Congresswoman Capito.

    • WVU 74

      wirerowe,

      Your post that the postponements of the Business Mandate in the Affordable Healthcare Act are due to opposition of the American public and political independents, raise doubt with this poster.

      You may wish to read USATODAY July 2, 2013:

      " WASHINGTON —The Obama administration announced Tuesday it is delaying until 2015 the requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees provide health insurance to their workers or pay a penalty.

      The announcement by the Internal Revenue Service comes after numerous complaints from businesses that the requirements were too complicated and difficult to implement in time."

      Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to the President is further quoted in the article as writing in her Blog, "... we are paying attention to the concerns of business."

      Its not voter or taxpayer concerns.

  • Jt

    Actually if Tackett would run as a independent in a race with Moore Capito and Tennant would be interesting.

  • Jt

    Tackett 2016!

  • Hop'sHip

    Missed you s-guy. Not all of us are guilty of silly stereotyping. Would be happy to be your neighbor. Then I could get you to decorate my house.

  • Rich

    Justice's Davis' analysis of Larry Puccio and the state party structure is spot on. He runs the party like a dictator, does not allow, does not allow input, and uses the party infrastructure only to promote the Manchin agenda to the detriment of the rest of the party and the ticket. (And I'm a huge Manchin supporter) For the first time in my memory in 2012, we did not have an organized party structure pushing the entire ticket. After the debacle of the Presidential Primary in 2012, he tried to tell Democrats that all would be well by November, and that Democrats would "flock home" to Obama in November once Romney and the Republican agenda was defined. Everyone else knew he was smoking something. The result was massive losses in the Legislature and continued entrenchment by David McKinley in the First District. He needs to go, but no one will take him on, and the Governor is not involved in party politics enough to replace him. Tomblin is the first Governor in memory who didn't seek and receive his own party chairman.

  • mntnman

    As I've said many times before, its early yet. Time is a funny thing; nothing stays the same so it leaves the future uncertain. A candidate will come forward and we'll have a race. Then we will see.

    The truth is WV is getting older, whiter and more conservative. That is a problem for progressives and moderates. Politics is like that. The think I find most interesting is that having more republicans in WV has not exactly improved the economy, infrastructure, etc. Like the dems, there is only so much they can or will do.

    The solution is not parties or politics, its leadership. WV seems devoid of that particular trait in her politicians, regardless of party. Kinda like the national scene.

    • WVSTARKTRUTH

      How can repubs change anything In WV when the Dems refuse to allow them To introduce anything meaningful without their approval?

  • Hop'sHip

    Maybe they should look at that Judd guy. He seemed to be popular with West Virginians. The state is getting older, whiter and more conservative, just like the Republican Party. Seems like a match made in heaven,...or somewhere.

    • DonaldH

      Why do you people hate on our white and senior citizens so much?

    • Charleston,WV

      Wow, another discriminatory comment from Hop'sHip. Who would have imagined?

      • Hop'sHip

        I guess I have been called-out by an entire city. As a courtesy, Charleston, could you be a little more specific about what I wrote with this comment that is "discriminatory". I feel the need to apologize but I would like to know for what.

        • Charleston,WV

          "The state is getting older, whiter and more conservative, just like the Republican Party. Seems like a match made in heaven,...or somewhere."
          _ Hop'sHip

          dis·crim·i·na·to·ry (disˈkrimənəˌtôrē)

          Adjective

          Making or showing an unfair or prejudicial distinction between different categories of people or things, esp. on the grounds of race,...

          Your comments are a farce, HopsHip. Grow up.
          BTW: My screen name's deception to you that I advocate for an entire city is yet another example of your bitter sarcasm. I hope you find your peace. Have a good day.

          • Hop'sHip

            Thanks wireowe. I do respect your opinion and if you say I have crossed the line, I will put myself in the comment penalty box for a two-week major, and try to "grow up."

          • wirerowe

            Hops some of my friends say your comments were out of line and some say they weren't. I am with my friends. It is hard to take your comments out of context of the ongoing back and forth between you and those of a more conservative bent and out of the fact that from time to time some of your comments go up to if not cross the line. But I think that your statement was factual. I am all three

          • Hop'sHip

            Ok. So I guess I should apolgize for being unfair and prejudicial toward whites, older people and conservative people? Still not sure how I did that since I am at least two of those things. And I think other people have pointed out that the population of the state is getting older, that the non-white segment of the state's population is small and not growing, and that the politics of the state is conservative. Wireowe: I respect your opinion. Was my comment above out of line?

          • bulldog95

            Now you done it, you backed up your post with facts, that means Hop'sHip will now ignore your post for the rest of the day because he cant come back with a snappy reply.

            Although he might say something about how awful it is to be a white male with all the racial profiling, all the mistrust that takes place, and now white males have to worry about walking and being stalked and being shot dead by other people... oh wait....

      • bulldog95

        Who would have imagined that Hop'sHip overlooked the fact that the people that voted for Judd are the same people he closely aligns himself with, the left. The conservatives that he hates so much didnt vote for Judd.

    • FungoJoe

      hopship. The Republicans have a person to run. And it is a female. Not an old white guy. It seems like the Dems in WV are the ones with all the old white guys. Rocky, Byrd, Manchin, ERT, etc. Maybe the Dems can dig up Bob Wise if he is not holed up somewhere with a mistress. Maybe they can blow the dust off an ultra-lib like Charlotte Pritt. Nah. Even Judd would thump Pritt. Maybe they can recruit anti-MTR and ex-country singer Kathy Mattea. No, not even 18 wheels and a dozen roses could beat Capito.

      Hopship, the WV Dems have moved so far left that no one, and I mean no one wants to represent them in an election. As your president's favorite reverend once said, "The pigeons have come home to roost" for WV Dems. Crocodile tears for you hopship.

      • Hop'sHip

        Thanks for the tears, Fungo, even if they are of the crocodile variety. But I don't recall asking for them. I guess you do represent the face of the "New West Virginia". It's time to go back (19th Century) to the future!

        • FungoJoe

          That is where you progressives want to take all of us, back to the 19th century. The pre-industrial revolution days of a weak US. That is your future, not mine or that of the US.

    • bulldog95

      Judd got all those votes on the democrat primary ticket. Us right wing nutjobs didnt get to vote on that ticket, it was your people that voted for Judd, not me.

      Thats right, your people, the left, not the right. Nice try, but try again.

      • Hillboy

        bulldog, registered democrat in WV does not equal left wing. I would go so far as to say that there are about the same number of conservatives registered as democrats in WV as there are conservatives registered as republicans. (the percentage within the parties differ but remember there are a lot more registered democrats) Together that is a lot of conservatives and that's why Capito will be hard to beat.

    • mntnman

      HAHAHA!

  • GregG

    Just tell Jay to hand the keys to Shelley. No point in wasting time on this subject, we all know she will be elected. One only has to look at the recent trend with the presidential elections to see that the democrat party in this state has some major issues.

    • WV Citizen

      Just say NO to Capito

      • must go

        Do not vote for any of these bums. Start with some fresh people.

        • GregG

          Find me a person that doesn't bow down to the rich, big business, organized religion and groups that want to make me believe my push mower and weed eater is the cause of these high temperatures and I'll support them.

  • Jesse's girl

    By having to pay homage to the national DNC, the WV DNC has shot itself in the foot for a number of years. By racing to the far-left, they have abandoned much of their base.

    Recent WV legislative elections are proof of this. Goodness, we even have the fresh face and ideas of a Joshua Nelson from BOONE County. I have noticed several long-time legislators suddenly retiring for state government appointments (where they can get a hefty, taxpayer paid retirement). I feel it makes quite the statement.

    We still have Joe, Nick Joe and Dog-track Tomblin, running away from Obama in the media and then supporting him completely when it comes to voting and instituting policies. Tomblin may have carpel tunnel from all the letters he has written and there is possibly a paper clog in the White House waste cans.

    I would add to Robin Davis' plea. Robin, your party is bankrupt and is rapidly making us so. Your party has been in that position for decades because your looney ideas just do not work. As a high school teacher I had 52 years ago stated: "All utopias fail, because they do not take 'human nature' into account. When human nature comes into play, they have to kill and jail a lot of people." (Obamacare brags it will do both).

    • Hop'sHip

      Uhh...I admit I'm not familiar with all of the ACA (Obamacare to you). Could you point out the provisions where it is designed "to kill and jail a lot of people".

      • DonaldH

        Hop's Hip, did they remove the section that said a panel would determine if granny got a pill for pain or a pacemaker for the cure?

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy,

    Look down the bench all you want. They can recruit local and they can recruit nationally. Heck they can even try and bring a JUCO which is what Natalie Tenant is. I mean Secretary of State is an office but not a Real office. Its like being a cheerleader or mascot or in the band, which Tenant was, you're there and may get noticed from time to time but as an afterthought to the real game & real athletes.

    Pick whoever they want but Shellie will make them her woman for the night and make them like it by the time she's through with them in the morning.

    The WV Democratic Party is really like a punch drunk fighter saying "I can still fight". The only deal is everybody knows they're over the hill & gonna get slaughtered. They had a good 80 year run but its over. Now it's time for the Republicans to continue to screw it up.

  • CaptainQ

    What's happened to the Democrat Party bench in WV Hoppy? One word: OBAMA!

    Any Democrat who chooses to run for the U.S. Senate in the Mountain State must have ZERO ties to the President to have a realistic chance to win next November. Voters in this state, both in 2008 and 2012 have made their collective feelings about Obama crystal clear. Last year, in order to get reelected, Joe Manchin, Nick Jo Rahall and Earl Ray Tomblin had to keep a HUGE distance between themselves and the President, not willing to publicly support him. The Three WV Stooges ('Joe', 'Nicky Joe' and 'Not Joe') even went to the exrtaordinary measure of 'playing hooky' from the DNC so as not to be forced to vote for Obama on the convention floor. This tatic worked, of course AFTER their reelection, each of the Stooges showed their true Obama colors (which will make their future election campaigns rough for them to win).

    Bottom line, the WV Democratic Party is in a real quandry here. If they can find a popular name candidate to run, they'll more than likely have some sort of ties to Obama. If they go with a virtual unknown with no Obama connections, can they win a state wide election against (probably) Shelley Moore Capito? Either way they go, it's far from being the lead pipe cinch it used to be to achieve victory in 2014.

    Good luck with that, they're going to NEED it!

    • bulldog95

      Do you think the guy in jail should run, after all he did get a hefty amount of votes in the primary. And to think, it was the left that voted for him, talk about not knowing your canidate, blind voting...

      • CaptainQ

        Why not? That guy got 42% of the 2012 Democratic Primary vote for President without even trying! Think of how many MORE WV Democratic voters would vote for him if he had an actual campaign?

        Well, two problems. First, the guy's still in jail and second, the guy's not a WV resident. But as I recall, neither was Jay Rockefeller when he started his political career in the Mountain State..... hmmmm....

      • must go

        I think that was a strong message. That we are fed up with what we have and anyone or thing could do better.

  • TD

    I said on the day of Rockefeller's announcement that Natalie Tennant was the Dems best chance to hold the seat. Rahall, Robin Davis, etc... they don't have a chance against Capito and made wise choices not to pursue the seat. Tennant could inspire the youth vote, would be strong amongst the WVU crowd, has state wide recognition, and is right on the issues for WV. It would be great to see her run, not only for WV but for the country. More trickle down, deregualtion of Wall Street failed Republican policies is exactly what we do not need and what we will get from Capito.

    • mntrbob

      TD, it was under Bush 43 that SOX was enacted, while under Carter CRA was enacted,under Clinton FSMA and CFMA were enacted and this led to the derivative fiasco, you must remember that. But the facts sometimes get in the way of a good story.

      • TD

        I have a lot of issues with Clinton and one was he signed bills in 2000, passed by the Republican congress, that he should have vetoed. Obviously CFMA was an enormous mistake (the biggest of his time in office), Captio was on the wrong side of those bills with Clinton. She was also on the wrong side of SOX. She voted to create a tax break for outsourcing and voted again to block repeal of that break which to this day is responsible for millions of jobs leaving the country.

        We need a fresh young face, Capito would be just another old Senate member who looks better suited for the rocking chair than anything else.

        • mntrbob

          I believe that Capito voted in favor of SOX, so more regulation is not what you are in favor of or just that a Republican voted for it.

      • bulldog95

        The facts always get in TD's way. TD gets an email every morning that has talking points that always mentions it Bush's fault. Its the tea party, right wing nut job...

        At this point its not even fun anymore to point all this out to him/her because he/she is a lemming.

  • DonaldH

    Gee!! now I'm held up for moderation?

  • Alice Click

    Justice Robin Davis on your program was quite interesting. One comment in particular was all telling: "I think the old guard has let the party down", said Davis. "There is absolutely no leadership and no vision in the state Democratic Party right now."

    The Huntingonnews.net picked up on that observation:

    Robin Davis is just telling the truth that many state Democrats have been picking up on since Larry Puccio took over the WV Democratic Party for his longtime associate, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.

    "The once proud Democratic Party of West Virginia is really just a vehicle for one man, Joe Manchin, and his insatiable ambition."

  • DonaldH

    Really? Robin Davis wants to blame the past state democrat leadership (Code: old white men) because she is not a viable candidate as a Democrat in West Virginia and you, Hoppy, harmonize with her by claiming there was a “log-jam” created at the top of the party ticket for years by the old guard..

    Maybe so many democrats are bowing out of the senate race not because Shelley Moore is such a “formidable foe” but because the National Democrat Party is such a handicap for them here in West Virginia.

    Face it, the new, more progressive national democrat party is more reflective of the values of Californians and New Yorkers, neither of which hold West Virginia and West Virginians in high regard and often refer to us as sister loving, white trailer park trash.

    I think if Manchin were to run today against Shelley or maybe even Raese , he’d lose--and not because of the formidability of the republicans but because of the albatross of the national democrat party--