West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller has announced that he will not run for re-election in 2014.
Although West Virginia has traditionally been a blue state the GOP has been making gains in recent years and this is now seen as a prime target for them in 2014. They already have a strong candidate in Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and assuming she makes it through the primary (a debatable issue in the circular firing squad that has been the Senate GOP of late) she would be a strong candidate for November.
The Democrats don’t yet have a candidate though given their general dominance of state politics they would have a number of contenders to choose from. In addition Republicans have not won a Senate seat in the state since 1956.
Rockefeller has been in office since 1985 and has one of the more interesting paths to the Senate. In 1978 he was serving his first term as Governor when incumbent Senator Jennings Randolph (then in his mid 70’s) decided to retire.
Rockefeller didn’t want this to happen because the other seat was held by Robert Byrd and if a new Senator was elected that year then there would no longer be a path to the Senate for him. So Rockefeller told Randolph that if he ran for re-election that Rockefeller would personally fund his entire campaign (which he did). Randolph won narrowly and served until 1985.