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Allen Tackett not running for Jay Rockefeller's US Senate seat

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, retired leader of the West Virginia National Guard, is not considering a run for U.S. Senate.

"I have no intention right now of running for Senate," Tackett told the Daily Mail Friday in an interview.

Tackett, 68, was rumored as a potential contender in the Democrat primary for Sen. Jay Rockefeller's soon-to-be-vacated seat. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., announced earlier this year he would retire when his term expires in 2014.

Tackett retired in January 2011 after more than 15 years as adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard. Recently, Tackett said he's received hundreds of phone calls urging him to enter the race.

Tackett gave two reasons why he isn't going to run. He said "I'm not rich" and he doesn't have the money he thinks is needed to run a successful senate campaign.

Tackett also can't run right now because he doesn't want to abandon his wife and his 93-year-old aunt, he said.  

"I just can't physically run off and leave the situation I've got there. I just can't do it right now," Tackett said.

His aunt, Ruth Taylor, is his mother's sister, and she's lived with Tackett and his wife for the last 32 years. She's legally blind, but can make her way around the home, Tackett said.

Taking her to Washington is out of the question, and "there's no way" Tackett would leave his wife to take care of her alone, he said.

"It's just not the right time," Tackett said.

The son of a coal miner, Tackett also worked for a coal mining company before taking the top spot at the National Guard in 1995, according to newspaper archives.

He was friends and worked well with the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd. The pair partnered to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for National Guard projects.

Just before Rockefeller announced he would not seek re-election, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she would run for the Senate seat. Tackett understands he's joining a growing list of Democratic non-candidates.

"They have had several people that have declined to run, but there's not a lot of really strong Democrats left to challenge Shelley," Tackett said.

After Rockefeller's announcement, several potential Democratic candidates opted against the race.

That includes former Sen. Carte Goodwin, former Gov. Gaston Caperton, Rep. Nick Rahall, state Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis and private attorneys Nick Preservati and Ralph Baxter.

"(Capito is) no amateur to politics, she's very astute. It would take somebody with a lot of money to give her a good race or to beat her," Tackett said.

Capito has more than $2.87 million in hand for her campaign, according to a recent filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Tackett pointed to Capito's time in the House as evidence she could be a tough opponent. Capito was first elected to the House in 2000. In 2008, Capito spoke on the House floor to congratulate Tackett and the state national guard for receiving an award in recognition of excellent performance in managing a military installation.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant is among the few Democrats to have expressed interest in running for Senate and not to bow out of the race. Tackett said he thinks she's well liked and has "run strong" in state campaigns, but "who knows" how she would fare as a Senate candidate.

West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said Friday he thinks Tackett would make an outstanding candidate. But there's still someone who's investigated running, and Puccio expects a campaign announcement in the next 30 days.

He declined to name the person, but said the potential candidate "truly is a West Virginia person that would represent the people of West Virginia."

When asked if Tennant was that candidate, he declined to answer. But he said he gets calls daily from people who want Tennant to enter the race.

Tennant spokesman Jake Glance said Friday Tennant is still considering whether to enter the race.  

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or Follow him at


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