Senator Jay Rockefeller to retire, giving Republicans chance at West Vriginia seat

Sen. Jay Rockefeller of W.Va. Won’t Seek Reelection

Sen. Jay Rockefeller of W.Va. Won’t Seek Reelection

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Jan. 11 2013 11:14 AM

Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia Won’t Seek Reelection, Giving GOP Chance at Seat

Sen. Jay Rockefeller has served in the Senate since 1985

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The GOP got some good news this morning as Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller said he will not seek reelection in 2014. Although the news was largely expected, the 75-year-old Rockefeller said he only recently made up his mind not to run for a sixth term, a question he had been wrestling with since October. “I’m going to serve out my term,” the senator tells Politico. “It was a very hard decision for me. Once it’s made, like any hard decision, it eases up. But it was a very tough decision for me.”

Rockefeller, a former two-term governor and currently chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, acknowledged it would be difficult for Democrats to hold on to his seat in a state where President Obama only received 35.5 percent of the vote last year. GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, whose father served three terms as West Virginia governor, had already declared her intention to run for Rockefeller’s seat, points out USA Today. Democrats and their allies hold 55 seats out of 100 in the Senate, and will have to defend 20 of them in the next election, several of which are in states that Obama lost in November, including Louisiana, Montana, and North Carolina, notes Bloomberg.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.