Senator Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) retirement creates an opportunity for change in West Virginia except there won’t be any. By that I mean that the local political machines will takeover and consume the moment, enhanced by the big machines that also have stake in the outcome.
For political scientists, this is an opportunity for a case study.
- First, there is the opportunity to examine why a wealthy man from New York would run for Senator from West Virginia on the Democrat ticket in one of the poorest states in the union. What did West Virginia gain from re electing Jay Rockefeller time and time again?
- Second, what qualifications should West Virginians be considering from candidates to replace Rockefeller?
- Third, which political party is most likely to best address West Virginia voter’s needs?
- Fourth, who are the prospective candidates and how to they rate?
When I was involved with West Virginia politicians, it was as a government program manager and management executive for a contractor with political ties to Senator Byrd and Congressman Mollohan. One of my staff members was former IT Director for the state, and together we called upon the Governor’s office and other state departments and agencies. That was first hand experience.
Now it would be hard for anyone to top Senator Byrd’s ability to “bring home the bacon” for his state. Highways, schools, and institutions bear his name as a tribute to his funding initiatives that improved the infrastructure and created jobs for West Virginians. One example is the FBI fingerprint lab in Clarksburg.
Congressman Mollohan created a technology park in Fairmont with his name on it in memory of his father who was also a congressman. He was a good friend of former Congressman Jack Murtha, Johnstown PA, just a coal pile away. There was a network of cooperation and collaboration among these politicians that measurably improved the economies in the region.
Those were the good old days when congress could create plus-ups and earmarks to direct funding to their districts. Now, that is history.
Senator Rockefeller wasn’t known for being as visible in delivering his bacon. What was it?
“John Davison “Jay” Rockefeller IV (born June 18, 1937) is the senior United States Senator from West Virginia. He was first elected to the Senate in 1984, while in office as Governor of West Virginia, a position he held from 1977 to 1985. Rockefeller moved to Emmons, West Virginia to serve as a VISTA worker in 1964, and was first elected to public office in the state, as a member of the House of Delegates, in 1966. Rockefeller was later elected Secretary of State in 1968 and was president of West Virginia Wesleyan College from 1973 to 1976.
As a great-grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, he is the only currently-serving politician of the prominent six-generation Rockefeller family and the only Democrat in what has been a traditionally Republican dynasty.”
He was a wealthy young man when he arrived as a VISTA volunteer to help improve the economy, and he stayed on the mission as a public servant.
Today, The Hill reports that Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) wants to run for Jay’s seat.
Who is she?
“Shelley Moore Capito (born Shelley Wellons Moore; November 26, 1953) is the U.S. Representative for West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district, serving since 2001. She is a member of the Republican Party. She was the only Republican in the West Virginia congressional delegation until the 2010 elections and is the first Republican woman elected to Congress from West Virginia.
The district stretches from the Ohio River in the west to the Eastern Panhandle, which borders with Virginia and Maryland.”
That Wiki writeup doesn’t say anything about who she is.
Try this tidbit: “Capito was born in Glen Dale, West Virginia, the daughter of Shelley (née Riley) and Arch Alfred Moore, Jr., who served three terms as that state’s Governor.”
“Arch Alfred Moore, Jr. (born April 16, 1923) was the 28th and 30th Governor of West Virginia from 1969 until 1977 and from 1985 until 1989. He was a Congressman from 1957 until entering the governor’s office. He is a member of the United States Republican Party. He ran for reelection in 1988, but was defeated by Gaston Caperton. Allegations of corruption were a major reason for his defeat. He was eventually prosecuted for corruption and pleaded guilty to five felony charges. He was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison in 1990. He served over three years before his release. As a result of his conviction, Moore was disbarred and forfeited his state pension. In 1995, he paid a settlement of $750,000 to the state.”
West Virginians just can’t get enough of that, I guess.
“Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-W.Va.) candidacy for West Virginia’s Senate seat is showing signs that Republicans could face the same intra-party split that plagued them in primaries over the past two cycles.
On Day One of her candidacy, Capito received criticism from two conservative groups known for mounting primary challenges against establishment-backed Republicans: the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group founded by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).
Chris Chocola, president of the Club, slammed her as an “establishment candidate,” and Senate Conservatives Fund executive director Matt Hoskins said the group wouldn’t endorse her.
“If the grassroots in West Virginia recruit a strong, viable challenger, SCF will seriously consider supporting them,” Hoskins said.
The early criticism indicates Capito, who is supports abortion rights and supported the auto and financial bailouts, could face a primary challenge from the right, though few prospects exist.
Democrats, too, could see a primary race. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who will be 77 on Election Day, could retire, jeopardizing what some Democrats say is their best chance at retaining the seat. He’s given no indication of his plans yet, saying only in an email that “everyone I talk to in West Virginia is tired of the non-stop campaigning.”
“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,” he said.