Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., will announce she's running for the Senate, West Virginia political reporter Hoppy Kercheval reported Sunday, setting up the prospect of a marquee political matchup in a state that is becoming solidly Republican at the presidential level.
Capito will be launching a campaign against Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who is up for reelection, and the popular Capito is considered by far the strongest Republican to challenge the five-term senator. Republicans urged her to run against Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., but she passed up that opportunity to focus on a 2014 run. Rockefeller has been rumored as a possible retirement possibility, given the tougher terrain for Democrats in his home state, but has given no hints that he is stepping down.
Capito is scheduled to make her campaign kickoff announcement Monday morning, according to Kercheval:
Whether Rockefeller will retire is the source of considerable speculation, given his age (he's 75) and a June speech he made in which he said coal operators needed to "face reality" about the future of the industry -- not a popular sentiment in the state -- as he spoke about his opposition to an attempt in the Senate to block the EPA from enforcing the new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards Rule. His colleague, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., supported the legislation.