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Longtime state senator McCabe says he won't seek re-election

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Longtime state Sen. Brooks McCabe will not seek re-election next year.

McCabe, D-Kanawha, announced his retirement Tuesday morning.

"I think I've fulfilled my commitment to the electorate," he said. "I've always been sensitive, you can stay too long. You can get too comfortable. I've always been concerned about not ending up in that position.

"It's a good time to pull away and get some younger leaders in the Senate and begin reassessing where the state needs to go."

McCabe, 64, made the decision following a vacation with his wife, Barbie, to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. The couple took a cruise to Italy and France.

"Part of getting away from everybody was to rethink what I wanted to do and what I should do. We both concluded, I am not going to run for re-election," he said. "I'm not disappearing but there are other things I want to do."

He anticipates there will be great interest in his Senate seat from several "solid candidates."

Newly elected delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, announced in April she would run for McCabe's seat in 2014. Although Raines only completed her first legislative session earlier this year, she said she did not appreciate the infighting in the House of Delegates and hoped to join the more collegial state Senate.

Another young Kanawha County delegate, Democrat Doug Skaff, said Tuesday he has long been interested in McCabe's seat. He plans to make an announcement later this week.

"Obviously it would interest me. I would consider, strongly, running for it. But...my first priority is helping put together a team in the House of Delegates to help move the state forward," he said.

Skaff currently is helping in House Finance Chariman Harry Keith White's bid for Speaker of the House. He said he considers McCabe a mentor, and said he would be "greatly missed and hard to replace."

McCabe was first elected to the state Senate in 1998. He said he has enjoyed his time in the upper chamber, dealing with complicated issues like West Virginia's worker's compensation and retirement benefit debts, as well as tax and insurance reforms.

He said he also is proud to have helped secure funding for West Virginia University's School of Public Health and create the state's Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund, which uses money from property transfer fees to allow the state Division of Natural Resources to purchase and protect land.

"I've felt I've made a difference, but I also know I'm not indispensable," he said.

Larry Puccio, chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, put out a news release Tuesday afternoon praising McCabe's 16 years of service in the Senate.

"He has spent that time quietly doing what matters most for the citizens of the Kanawha Valley," he said. "No words can properly express our gratitude for his years of service on the issues that are most critical to the working families of West Virginia. Thank you Senator."

McCabe said he hasn't ruled out returning to politics someday, but has no plans to run for elected office anytime soon.

Instead, he wants to spend more time with his family -- which now includes a 5-month-old grandson -- and pursue new business opportunities with his company, West Virginia Commercial, a commercial real estate brokerage and development firm.

"I think the economy's coming back around. It's a nice opportunity," he said.

He also plans to take the next few years to write an economic history of Charleston. McCabe is a big West Virginia history buff, with a library of more than 2,500 books on the Mountain State collected over the last 40 years.

"I read anything I can on West Virginia history. I buy anything I see. When somebody writes a family history, I try to get a copy of it. I look on the Internet for out-of-print books," he said. McCabe's book will focus on the development of Charleston, what caused it to grow, the leaders that helped the city grow and what caused that growth to slow down.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.harold@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.


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