CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Decked out in red and filled with enthusiasm, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant told a crowd of supporters at the state Culture Center on Tuesday she’ll campaign for the Democrat nomination for the U.S. Senate.
Tennant paid tribute to her predecessors, claiming the state could benefit from expanding on federal installations from late Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s efforts. She also lauded the Toyota manufacturing plant and other automotive facilities courted to the state by Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
Beginning a five-city tour to kick off her candidacy, Tennant pledged to make college more affordable, fix the parts of Obamacare that are broken, and to stand up to anybody in Washington—Democrat or Republican—who stands in the way of West Virginia’s energy industries.
“The same way I stood up when people were criticizing what took place in a particular county during an election,” Tennant said. “People were saying ‘Natalie wont’ do anything.’ What was really happening behind the scenes was I was investigating and even went against my own party. I’ve shown I do what’s right for West Virginia and put West Virginia first.”
Tennant quickly moved to criticize her likely opponent in the 2014 general election, calling Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito part of the problem in a broken Congress for 13 years.
“Being an obstructionist when we need to get to work.” Tennant said. “We’re in the middle of sequester cuts right now, she’s part of that. She’s part of a Congress that is not working well together.”
The race promises to be one watched nationally and out-of-state money is expected to free flow into West Virginia if it becomes Capito v. Tennant. Tennant fully expects the onslaught and said she and her family are prepared for whatever would come their way in the form of criticism.
“I have shown that I have stayed true to who I am,” she said. “I am centered. I am a real West Virginian and knows from where she comes when I talk about my values and my compass.”
Flanked by her husband Erik and daughter Delaney, Tennant recalled her days growing up on a Marion County farm. She said it was there she first realized the opportunity to be anything she wanted. She admitted it took soul-searching to seek the U.S. Senate seat.
“It was not a quick, fast, easy decision,” she said. “I looked inward and said to myself, ‘Can I do this? What can I bring to this? Can my family go through a campaign like this? What is the support?’ All of those questions were answered.”