Democratic Rep. Nick J. Rahall II will not run for Senate next year and plans to seek re-election to West Virginia's 3rd District instead, a Democratic strategist confirmed Tuesday evening.
His decision means that Democrats will continue to search for a top candidate to run for retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller's seat.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, announced her candidacy for Senate last year. She got off to a big head start in fundraising in the first quarter as well.
Rahall was an obvious choice for Democrats, but party operatives were not very enthusiastic about his potential Senate candidacy. After 19 terms in Congress, Rahall boasted a long voting record. Some Democrats prefer a candidate with deep pockets and without a prior legislative track record.
That candidate could well be attorney Nick Preservati; National Journal previously reported that he has met with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and is said to have a strong fundraising capacity. (Read Stuart Rothenberg's take on Preservati in Roll Call).
National Republicans continue to argue that Rahall will have a tough re-election race in 2014. Republicans Rick Snuffer and state Sen. Bill Cole are on the radar as challengers to Rahall.
However, House Republicans have talked up the district as a potential target before and failed to invest resources there before Election Day. Privately, some Republicans admit Rahall has a unique hold on what should be a GOP district until he retires.
National Journal first reported the news.