U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller will not be running for reelection in 2014.
The longtime Senator, who is currently serving his fifth term in the U.S. Senate, made the announcement on Friday in the Capitol City as he looked back over his Senate career. It first started in 1984.
“I’ve been proud to stand with the working men and women of America, miners and steel workers, teachers and nurses and everyone who deserves a fair wage,” Senator Rockefeller said at the Culture Center.
Now, he says, he will be spending more time with his family and working in public service in other ways.
“I will never be able to stop working for the people who have always meant so much to me and the causes that I am so passionate about and which sustain me,” the Senator said.
See video of announcement:
Rockefeller, 75, first came to West Virginia in 1964 as a volunteer with VISTA program. He was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1966 and then won his first statewide race as Secretary of State in 1968.
Rockefeller lost his only election in West Virginia in 1972 when he ran for governor against Arch Moore. He waited four years and ran again in 1976 and was elected to his first of two four year terms.
“He’s done a wonderful job serving the state of West Virginia and the U.S. Congress,” Marshall University President Stephen Kopp told MetroNews of Senator Rockefeller on Friday. “That’s a wonderful legacy he has built.”
Kopp says Rockefeller’s experience will be a great loss for the state.
“As a state I think we’ll lose an awful lot of seniority in the U.S. Senate, which is important. But it’s also important that he make the personal decision that he’s making and do it for all the right reasons for what he feels he can do,” Kopp said.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, a longtime Rockefeller friend, said the Senator has had a legendary run.
“I think it’s important to recognize the incredible achievements of Senator Rockefeller and wish him well and continue to support him during the remainder of his term,” Carper said.
Senator Rockefeller says his last two years in the Senate will be busy. “We’ve got a really rough debt ceiling (debate) several weeks coming up, really, really rough and I want to be a part of that fight,” he said on Friday.
“I will continue pouring myself into it because there’s so much that’s important to do. There always is in West Virginia.”
Rockefeller says his decision has nothing to do with the announcement made by Congressman Shelley Moore Capito back in November that she planned to run for Senate.
He says he believes he would have defeated Capito.