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Capito to run for U.S. Senate seat

Nov. 26, 2012 @ 10:29 AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — On the heels of winning a seventh term, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito vowed Monday to run in 2014 for the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat and West Virginia's senior senator.

Joined on her 59th birthday by several dozen supporters and family members, with several holding printed campaign signs, Capito announced her plans in the state Capitol rotunda. Among other issues, the 2nd District Republican touted the state's significant coal industry while decrying federal energy policies. She also cited recent GOP inroads in state government.

"This change will be good," Capito said. "It's going to be a wild ride, for two years."

Rockefeller said Capito called him last week and told him of her plans. The 75-year-old did not say whether he would seek a sixth term in 2014.

"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," Rockefeller said in a statement.

Rockefeller and state Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio also each cited how West Virginians have gone through seven elections in less than three years. That lengthy political season included a special U.S. Senate primary following the 2010 death of Robert C. Byrd. Then-Gov. Joe Manchin won that seat, leading to special primary and general gubernatorial elections last year.

West Virginia Republican Chairman blasted Rockefeller's tenure in the Senate in a statement following Capito's announcement.

"I think we deserve to have a U.S. senator who will be a reasoned and powerful voice for the people of West Virginia," Lucas said.

But Capito took immediate fire Monday from Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth political action committee and a former House Republican colleague. He faulted her for voting for the Medicare prescription benefit, congressional earmarks, and several of the measures passed in the wake of the Great Recession and Wall Street meltdown.

"The problem is that Congresswoman Capito's record looks a whole lot like the establishment candidates who lost this year," Chocola said in a statement. "Congresswoman Capito has a long record of support of bailouts, pork, and bigger government."

Capito attracted about 70 percent of her district's vote when she defeated a low-funded Democratic opponent, Howard Swint, on Nov. 6. Capito would be leaving a U.S. House controlled by her party and where she has built seniority. Among her assignments, Capito chairs a House Financial Services subcommittee that oversees banks and consumer credit.

Those on hand for Capito's announcement included lobbyists representing the state Chamber of Commerce, Coal Association, auto and truck dealers, and gas station owners. With the Legislature holding interim study meetings, the crowd included several GOP lawmakers.

Capito was in the House of Delegates when she first ran for Congress in 2000. Her father, Arch Moore, had been Rockefeller's chief political rival several decades ago. Moore defeated Rockefeller in the 1972 race for governor, but then lost to him in a 1980 rematch.

Rockefeller narrowly won election to the Senate in 1984, while Moore completed a third term as governor but then pleaded guilty to five corruption-related felonies. After recent health struggles, he and former first lady Shelley Moore did not attend the announcement. Standing by Capito was her husband, a finance executive, along with their grown children and their families.