West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller says that he will not run for reelection in 2014. Rockefeller would have been very hard-pressed to win in his increasingly conservative state, particularly against the popular Shelley Moore Capito. As I noted, in November, when Capito announced her candidacy, she leads Rockefeller in the polls. And during her congressional career, she has represented roughly 40 percent of the state’s voting population.
As things stand now, Republicans need to pick up a net of six seats to take control of the Senate in 2014. It is not overly optimistic think that West Virginia will contribute to that cause. Rockefeller himself acknowledged that Democrats will have a hard time holding onto his West Virginia Senate seat.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey mentions a possible downside to Rockefeller’s decision:
[T]his means that Rockefeller doesn’t have to spend the next two years looking over his shoulder and shifting to the right to protect his seat. For the next two years, Rockefeller can vote without any accountability to the more conservative voters in West Virginia.
But the aristocratic Rockefeller doesn’t strike me as the bending, “accountable” type. With the possible exception of a few hot West Virginia issues, I wouldn’t have expected him to shift to the right even if he had decided to run in 2014.