Former TV anchor to run for Senate
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A former face of television news in southern West Virginia is ready to venture into a different realm of public life.
Longtime TV anchor Martin Staunton filed Tuesday to run for U.S. Senate, according to the Secretary of State's website and Staunton's Facebook page.
"This may seem like a pie in the sky dream to some, but I assure you that I am in this to win it because I will not be able to make a difference if I come in second," Staunton wrote in a Facebook post.
"I have to convince my fellow West Virginians to stand with me to bring some common sense back into Congress and to just say no to old school West Virginia politics," the post continues.
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., announced earlier this year he would retire when his term expires in 2014. A few weeks before Rockefeller announced his decision, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she would seek the Senate seat. She is considered the heavy favorite early in the race.
Staunton, who filed as a "non partisan" candidate, did not return several requests for comment. He discussed his decision to run at length in a post on his Facebook page.
It's been a rough time for Staunton recently: in the last eight months, his wife of 25 years died, he almost died from serious complications related to diabetes and he lost his job as a TV reporter, according to his post.
But the self declared non-politician says his experiences, communications skills and "backbone" are tools he can use as a senator to serve West Virginia.
"The voice, concerns and ideas of the working people of West Virginia desperately needs to be heard on the floor of the Senate, with meaningful legislation to protect our children, to stand up to the attempt to let the criminal element erode the right to bear arms, to get healthcare reform right, and to protect our social security..." the Facebook post states.
A native of Niagara, N.Y., Staunton moved to Oak Hill when he was 13, according to past newspaper features. He briefly attended West Virginia University before moving to New York City to pursue a career in acting.
He later moved back to West Virginia to attend a vocational school, and eventually earned a degree in 2001 from West Virginia State College. He worked in radio before serving for decades as a reporter and anchor with TV stations in Charleston and Beckley.
"If things are just fine for you, then keep the leadership we have seen, but if you want to get back on track to build a better tomorrow for West Virginia, then stand with me to keep the "well-connected" and those part of political dynasties from grabbing the seat that belongs to "We the people..." Staunton wrote on the Facebook post.
Capito is the only candidate who has officially raised money for a Senate campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission website. As of March 31 she had $2.37 million cash on hand.
Former TV anchors have fared well historically when turning to political careers in West Virginia. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and state Senator Erik Wells, both Democrats, worked as co-anchors for WCHS in Charleston before seeking public office.
Both are believed to be considering runs for either Capito's current seat or Senate.
Charleston attorney Nick Preservati is another Democrat who has expressed interest in vying for the Senate seat.