West Virginia Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito announced Monday morning that she is running in 2014 for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Jay Rockefeller.
Capito has long considered a run for the Senate, and passed on the most recent opportunity following the death of long-time Senator Robert Byrd. She’s expected to say, among other things, that the timing is now right for her run.
The announcement sets up a potential race between two West Virginia political heavyweights.
Rockefeller, 75, is serving his fifth term in the Senate. Prior to that he served two terms as Governor. In Washington, he has championed issues affecting children and families.
Rockefeller has indicated that he plans to run for re-election in 2014, but there continues to be speculation that he may retire at the end of this term.
Rockefeller says Capito gave him a heads-up about her plans.
“Congresswoman Capito called last week to let me know of her plans, and I appreciate that,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement. “But my total focus right now is on the national budget situation and the fight for West Virginia families–making sure the very wealthy finally start paying their fair share again, for the first time in decades, rebuilding a strong middle class, and creating real opportunity for those who are still struggling.”
Capito, who turns 59 Monday, was elected to her seventh term in the house this month. She has established herself as the most significant Republican politician in the state since her father, Arch Moore. He served three terms as Governor, but his legacy was tarnished by a corruption scandal that landed him in prison for three years.
Capito, however, has created her own political credentials as a moderate Republican and a formidable campaigner.
She is expected to say Monday that she wants to announce her candidacy now to end increased speculation and clear the way for others who may be interested in running for the second district seat she now occupies. The announcement is planned for 10 a.m. at the State Capitol.
Rockefeller questioned the timing of the announcement.
“Everyone I talk to in West Virginia is tired of the non-stop campaigning,” Rockefeller said. “West Virginians just want us to do our jobs, and for me that means focusing full-time on the serious issues at hand. Politics can wait.”