CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Tuesday marks nine months until the 2014 May Primary Election in West Virginia and no Democrat with statewide name recognition has yet launched a U.S. Senate campaign.
State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said that could soon change.
“There’s no question that we will have a candidate and it’s an individual that has worked very hard and has been committed to putting everything in and dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and I think we’ll have a tremendous candidate,” said Puccio.
He would not confirm if that candidate will be Secretary of State Natalie Tennant who has made no announcements about her political future.
The Marion County native has served as Secretary of State since first being elected in 2008. Prior to that, she worked in television news at WBOY-TV in Clarksburg and WCHS-TV in Charleston and is a former Mountaineer mascot for West Virginia University.
Puccio would say Tennant would be a strong candidate if she opts to get into the race for the seat U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller currently holds. Rockefeller is not running for reelection next year.
In Tennant, “I think you have an individual that is a true West Virginian, that is proven. She is the person that touches the people, shakes the hands, hears their concerns,” said Puccio.
Republican Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito announced her plans to run for the U.S. Senate last fall soon after being reelected for a seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
State Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said Capito has represented West Virginia’s interests well with her agenda on Capitol Hill.
“It’s been very pro-coal, very pro-West Virginia. It’s been anti-Obamacare. It’s been very pro-job creation,” he said. Lucas said, while many people like Tennant, he thinks Capito would be the stronger candidate in any potential race between the two.
There are several other candidates already running for U.S. Senate.
Sheirl Fletcher, a former Republican member of the state House of Delegates from Morgantown, has filed pre-candidacy papers to run for the Democratic nomination U.S. Senate.
Fletchers changed her party affiliation a decade ago and unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in the 2008 primary against Senator Rockefeller and in the 2010 and 2012 primaries against U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.
Others who have filed include Phil Hudok from Huttonsville who is running with the Constitution Party, Republican Scott “Cody” Regan from Salt Rock, Republican Edwin Ray Vanover from Bluefield and Democrat David Wamsley from Williamstown.
Former TV Anchor Martin Staunton from Beckley has filed to run without a party affiliation.
West Virginia’s Primary Election Day is Tuesday, May 13.