Capito to Forgo West Virginia Senate Run

Posted July 21, 2010 at 6:46am

Updated: 11:01 a.m.

GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito announced Wednesday morning that she will not run in the special election to fill the unexpired term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).

Legislation allowing for a November Senate special election passed by the West Virginia Legislature on Monday would have allowed Capito to run simultaneously for re-election and in the Senate race. But in a lengthy statement, Capito acknowledged the pitfalls of running for two offices and said there are still legal and practical questions surrounding an attempt to do so.

“There has been enough unnecessary chaos and controversy surrounding the vacancy in the U.S. Senate,” Capito said. “My candidacy would create more uncertainty, invite a legal challenge, and misrepresent my priorities as a public servant. The outcome could ultimately place my re-election to the House of Representatives in jeopardy and would leave the final decision in the hands of state officials rather than the voters.”

Still, she left the door open to running for higher office two years from now, when she could decide to mount a gubernatorial campaign.

Capito’s plans were first reported late Tuesday on the Fix, a Washington Post political blog.

Capito has been at the top of the list of possible Republican candidates, and she was widely viewed as the candidate who could best compete against popular Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin in the November contest.

Manchin made his Senate bid official Tuesday, just one day after signing the bill allowing for the November election. Also on Tuesday, Democrat Carte Goodwin was sworn in to the Senate as a temporary replacement for Byrd.

With Capito passing on the race, one of the other Republicans still considering running is wealthy businessman John Raese, who unsuccessfully challenged Byrd in 2006.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said last week that the party will find a candidate who can make the race competitive and that Democrats should not expect a coronation for Manchin. The candidate filing deadline is Friday.