CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Gaston Caperton is done with politics.
Many considered the former governor a potential candidate for U.S. Senate when Sen. Jay Rockefeller announced his plans to retire after 2014, but Caperton said he has no interest in Capitol Hill.
Or any other elected office, for that matter.
"I'm almost 73 years old. People ask me, why are you not running for United States Senate. If I did, I'd be elected at 75 years old and, six years later, I'd be 81 years old if I ran for re-election," he said.
"I'm not going to run again."
It's not an entirely surprising decision. Caperton has campaigned for office exactly twice in his life: the 1988 bid for governor, in which he defeated incumbent Gov. Arch Moore, and his 1992 re-election campaign.
While he has long been interested in politics, Caperton is a businessman by training and trade. He made his father's small insurance company into one of the largest insurance brokers in the nation before handing the firm over to a blind trust when he became West Virginia's 31st chief executive.
After leaving office, Caperton went on to teach at Harvard and Columbia University. In 1999, he became president of the College Board, a New York-based group that runs Advanced Placement courses in schools around the world and administers the SAT for high school seniors.
He left that job in June of last year to spend more time in West Virginia.
Caperton says he's healthy, exercises regularly and tries to keep his Diet Coke intake to a minimum. He's still tall and beanstalk-thin. But politics, for him, is a younger man's game.
"I'm going to continue to work real hard because I like to. I don't want to slow down, but God will make you slow down. There's an aging process that you can't beat," he said.
So for now, Caperton is just glad to be home.
He left West Virginia shortly after moving out of the Governor's Mansion in 1997.
"You're elected governor for eight years. Then it's somebody else's term, and you don't want to be a critic.
"I wouldn't have wanted to be around and have somebody say, 'they did such-and-such, what do you think about that?' I think you do your job and you carry on," he said.
He didn't have many plans at the time, but soon was offered a semester-long fellowship at Harvard's Institute of Politics.
The fellowship required Caperton to teach class once a week but, other than that, he was allowed to audit as many courses as he liked. He scoped out the best professors and enrolled in courses on religion, business and jazz.
"It really was a nice change," he said.