Potential W.Va. Senate hopeful Rahall questions ‘fire in the belly’

January 16, 2013

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) said Wednesday that he is seriously considering a run for the open Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

But, in an interview with local political expert and radio host Hoppy Kercheval, he also said he hasn't had the requisite "fire in the belly" in recent campaigns.

Rahall, 63, has held down a conservative-leaning congressional district -- the only Democrat in the state's three-member House delegation -- for nearly three decades and is considered a top Democratic hope should he run.


His comment that he hasn't had the "fire in the belly" is particularly interesting, given how close his 2012 reelection race was. His opponent, state Sen. Rick Snuffer (R), got some backing from the national Republican Party and held Rahall to 54 percent of the vote -- the incumbent's worst showing since 1990.

Rahall did say that he and Rockefeller, his former boss, have talked many times about Rahall potentially running for Senate. And he also argued that he would be an effective senator given his relationships with former House members who have moved to the upper chamber in recent years.

Another potential candidate, attorney Ralph Baxter, also told Kercheval that he is considering a bid. Though he has spent time outside the state during his career, he said he will remain in his home state as he considers a bid.

“Now I’m going to be there on a full time basis and I can really turn to focusing on how I can best make a contribution to give back to West Virginia,” Baxter said.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who announced her campaign before Rockefeller's retirement, is the frontrunner on the GOP side.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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