CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several sources have confirmed for MetroNews that West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant will announce next week that she is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2014. The Washington Post is also reporting that Tennant will enter the race with a series of campaign stops, likely on Tuesday.
The seat is opening up next year because Senator Jay Rockefeller is retiring.
Tennant’s expected entry sets up a likely battle with Republican Shelley Moore Capito. The 2nd District Congresswoman announced earlier this year that she is running for Rockefeller’s seat.
There was no immediate comment from Tennant’s office, although she is said to be contacting people and letting them know of her decision.
Tennant has been mulling a run for some time, even as a series of potential candidates decided not to run. Tennant is said to be encouraged by a recent West Virginia Poll showing that if the election were held today, Capito would get 45 percent, Tennant 40 and 15 percent undecided.
The Marion County native is in her second four-year term as Secretary of State. She will be able to run in 2014 without giving up her current position. Her term expires in 2016.
Tennant has also been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2016. She ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor in a 2011 special election, finishing third.
Tennant, 45, first made a name for herself while a student at WVU where she became the first woman chosen at the Mountaineer, the mascot for the University. She graduated in 1991 with a journalism degree and spent most of the next two decades as a television reporter and anchor in Clarksburg and Charleston.
Her husband, Erik Wells, is a Democratic State Senator representing Kanawha County.
There was evidence earlier Friday that Tennant had decided to join the race when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out a release of a Charleston Gazette story about her. The subject line was, “Tennant’s cost saving measures saves West Virginia $3 million.”
In that story, Tennant described herself as a “fiscal hawk.”
The GOP wasted no time responding. National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brook Hougesen released a statement calling Tennant, “a cookie-cutter liberal.”