Capito gives state first GOP U.S. senator since 1950s

By Chris Dickerson | Nov 4, 2014

CHARLESTON – For the first time since the 1950s, West Virginia soon will have a Republican in the U.S. Senate.

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito was named the winner of the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller moments after polls closed Tuesday. She defeated Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat, and some third-party candidates.

She also is the first woman to represent West Virginia in the Senate.

Capito was the frontrunner for most of the campaign season.

As of Sept. 30, Capito had raised more than $7 million. Tennant, failed to raise half of that, netting $3.3 million in contributions so far in the 2013-2014 election cycle, according to campaign finance reports on file with the Federal Election Commission.

Rockefeller said last January he would not seek a sixth term, but Capito already had announced her plans to run for the Senate before that.

The last time a Republican was elected to the Senate from West Virginia was in 1942 when William Chapman Revercomb won the seat. He served until 1949 after losing in the 1948 general election. Revercomb served again from 1956 to 1958 as a replacement for Democrat Harley Kilgore, who died. Revercomb ran again in 1958, but lost to Robert C. Byrd.

This year, Capito ran on a campaign that said voting for Tennant was a vote for President Barack Obama.

“West Virginia was first to send President Obama the message that his policies were on the ballot today,” Capito said during her victory speech Tuesday night. “And, it can be heard loud and clear that this President’s failed agenda doesn’t work for West Virginia.

"West Virginians first want a faster growing economy, better job opportunities, a strong middle class and certainty that their hard work will pay off.  They also want an all-of-the-above energy policy – that includes coal.  They want the ability to choose their doctors and have the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions.  They want a national security policy that protects their families and keeps our homeland safe."

Capito also said she would work with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

“I go to the Senate with a mandate to make Washington work for West Virginia,” Capito said. “I want to be the first to extend my hand of cooperation to Senator Joe Manchin and the members of the West Virginia congressional delegation to join me in this fight to put West Virginia first again.

“The responsibility that comes with serving you in the United States Senate will always be first on my mind. And, I promise that I will fight hard every day to make sure your voice is heard.”

Besides Tennant, others who ran for the seat were Mountain Party candidate Bob Henry Baber, Libertarian candidate John Buckley and Constitution Party candidate Phil Hudok.

"Tonight voters in West Virginia made history and ushered in a new era of Republican victories here with their choice of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito," West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said. "We are proud to have such a quality legislator and friend of our coal and energy industries as Shelley to represent us in Washington.

"Her resolve, strength and grace benefit every West Virginian and will be an example for our nation in the U.S. Senate."

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