Democrat Gov. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, 47, picked up the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Jennings Randolph (D) with a 53 to 47 percent victory over a wealthy political neophyte, John R. Raese.
Rockefeller hadn't even claimed victory before he was bombarded with questions about his plans for 1988.
"Do you plan to use the Senate as a steppingstone for the presidency?" a CBS reporter asked.
The two-term governor pointed out that he came to this impoverished state as a social worker more than 20 years ago, that all four of his children were born here and that he has no plans "beyond serving the state and its honest, hard-working people."
Rockefeller said he planned to concentrate on West Virginian issues in Washington -- for example, pushing for a national energy policy that has coal as its foundation.
The 6-foot-6 1/2 Rockefeller, the only son of John D. Rockefeller III, came to West Virginia in 1964 as a volunteer with Action for Appalachia Youth, part of the Vista program. He was elected to the state legislature in 1966 and as secretary of state in 1968. He lost a bid for governor in 1972 before winning in 1976 and 1980.
Raese, a newspaper publisher and heir to a family limestone company fortune, proposed a $3 million spending limit, but Rockefeller ignored that and outspent his little-known challenger 12 to 1.
Rockefeller said, "I'll never get away from my critics, but I'll never let it worry me." He recalled that in 1972, after he was defeated in his first try for governor, he became president of West Virginia Wesleyan College and "people said I was using that as a steppingstone to the presidency of Harvard."
He and his wife, Sharon, daughter of Sen. Charles H. Percy (R-Ill.) have four children. They were with him early this moring to celebrate, as were his mother, Blanchette Rockefeller, and his sisters, Alida, Dayton and Hope Rockefeller