Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has been in the Senate since 1977.(Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)
Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller will announce Friday that he will not
seek a sixth term in 2014, setting the stage for a pitched battle for
his Senate seat in West Virginia.
He is slated to announce his plans in Charleston.
a former two-term governor and current chairman of the Senate Commerce
Committee, has been in the Senate since 1985. He has sparred in recent
years with the state's coal mining industry and is a staunch supporter
of President Obama, who is unpopular in the state.
told the Associated Press he wants to spend more time with his family.
"I've gotten way out of whack in terms of the time I should spend with
my wife and my children and my grandchildren," he said.
is the first Democrat up for re-election in 2014 to announce his
political plans, which will give the party plenty of time to recruit a
candidate. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican whose father was once
governor, has declared her intention to run for the Senate in 2014.
Democrats currently have a 55-45 voting edge in the Senate and have 20 seats to defend in the next election cycle.
came to West Virginia to work on anti-poverty programs and stayed in
the state to build a political career. In 1972, Rockefeller lost his
first bid for governor -- to Arch Moore, Capito's father -- before going
on to serve two terms from 1977 to 1985.
As a senator,
Rockefeller is known for his work on health care legislation, among
other issues. He was a champion of the "public option," a government-run
health insurance program, which did not make it into the final version
of Obama's health care law.