U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller says a lot of prayer and soul searching went into his decision not to seek reelection after his current term ends in 2014.
Rockefeller sat down with reporters Friday afternoon following his announcement at the state Culture Center in Charleston. He explained the decision has evolved over the past few weeks but it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact time.
“I mean the whole thing has evolved slowly, thoughtfully and frankly, prayerfully,” the senator said. “I’m not dealing with the brain here but I’m dealing with my heart, my gut.”
Rockefeller says he realizes his announcement will create a scramble among Democrats and others who are thinking about seeking the office but he says that really wasn’t part of his decision to make the announcement Friday.
“I wanted to make this announcement now and I did it in some secrecacy becuase I wanted to say what I was doing and why I was doing it in my own way, my own words and my own time,” Rockefeller said.
The senator said he knows West Virginia has become more of a “red state” in recent years but he predicts many state residents will come to support things like health care reform when they begin to learn more about it.
“Even if people don’t want all of it right now they are going to need it and they are going to know it,” he said.
The 75-year-old Rockefeller praised his wife, children and grandchildren Friday and said he would be looking for a new balance when it comes to public service. The senator said no one has tried to talk him out of his decision not to run again.
“Partly because it was between Sharon and myself and my family. It was an intimately personal decision,” he said. “Fifty years nonstop and Sharon working everyday at WETA, but at some point you’ve got to be together.”
Rockefeller also pointed Friday health was not a factor in his decision.
“I have this stupid bum leg, which is annoying, but it doesn’t prevent me from doing anything. I actually just finished a physical in the Senate three days ago and I came through with flying colors,” he said.