At a Glance
- Career History: West Virginia Governor (1976 to 1984); President, West Virginia Wesleyan College (1973 to 1975); West Virginia Secretary of State (1968 to 1972)
- Birthday: June 18, 1937
- Hometown: New York, N.Y.
- Alma Mater: Harvard University, B.A. in Far Eastern Languages and History (1961); Christian University, Tokyo, Japan (1957-1960)
- Spouse: Sharon Percy Rockefeller
- Religion: Presbyterian
- Committees: Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation (Chairman); Committee on Finance (Chairman of Subcommittee on Health Care); Committee on Veterans' Affairs (former chairman); Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (former chairman); Joint Committee on Taxation
- DC Office: 531 Hart Senate Office Building Washington D.C. 20510 202-224-6472
- State Offices: Beckley (304) 253-9704; Charleston (304) 347-5372; Fairmont (304) 367-0122; Martinsburg (304) 367-0122
Path to Power
Rockefeller was born into a wealthy and politically powerful family, but his own path to power wasn't a straight shot.
Rockefeller is the only son of John D. Rockefeller III, who oversaw the family's philanthropic efforts and founded the Asia Society. Jay Rockefeller was raised in New York and graduated from Harvard in 1961 with a degree in Far Eastern Languages and History. Rockefeller lived in Japan for three years before spending a year in Washington, where he oversaw a Peace Corps program in the Philippines.
Despite his progressive Republican family background, Rockefeller has a strong Democratic record. The liberal Americans for Democratic Action gave him a score of 85 percent in 2008. He has voted with his party 97 percent of the time in the 111th Congress.
Health care and national security have been the focal points of Rockefeller's Senate career. He has also supported constitutional amendments to allow voluntary school prayer and efforts to tighten FCC regulations to cut back on violence on TV.
Rockefeller works closely with Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). He followed his home state's senior senator's lead on many issues during his first years in the Senate and often speaks of his respect for Byrd, the Senate's longest-serving member. He called Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) one of his best Senate friends, but disagreed with him fiercely on health-care reform in 2009.
Rockefeller threw his support behind Barack Obama 's nomination in February 2008. The endorsement came as Obama's national security and foreign policy credentials were under attack by his chief Democratic rival, then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.). He cited Obama's opposition to the Iraq war in 2002 as one of the deciding factors in his endorsement.