Why Jay Rockefeller is retiring

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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As Alexis Levinson noted, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller is set to retire at the end of his term.

This is not an accident. Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito had already given him a courtesy heads-up she would be running against him. What is more, Rockefeller had little support among the coal industry in his state.

There are other reasons. As one senate staffer told me, “Senator Rockefeller didn’t seem to have much left in the tank. He is getting older and his back is causing him trouble. He is very nice but like a lot of these members, they get old, they get tired and under a system where Harry Reid allows for no regular order and work by the committees, it is hard to see any reasons why he would want to stay.”

Coming on the heels of the 2010 death of W. Va. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, this is clearly the end of an era. Republicans will wish him well. It will be interesting to see if he tries to accomplish any “legacy” project between now and 2014.

Matt K. Lewis