CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Despite announcing earlier this year he might enter the 2014 race for U.S. Senate, Wheeling lawyer Ralph Baxter said Thursday he would not seek political office next year.
Baxter at one point was "seriously considering" a run for retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller's seat.
He spent time at former Gov. Gaston Caperton's South Hills home in January. Soon after the meeting, Caperton announced he would not seek election in 2014 and Baxter announced he was giving serious consideration to a Senate bid.
But speaking to the Daily Mail on Thursday, Baxter said he and his family intend to spend the next few years "giving back to West Virginia in a hands-on and personal way."
"People who plan on running for office in 2014 need to be working on that right now," he said. "If I were going to run, I'd need to focus on that right now."
And right now, Baxter doesn't have time.
He served as CEO of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, an international law firm headquartered in San Francisco, until April 1.
He purchased a new home in Wheeling late last year. He said he hasn't been able to spend much time in West Virginia during his 23-year tenure with Orrick but now plans to dedicate his time to improving education and helping bring jobs to the state.
Baxter, a board member of the West Virginia Education Alliance, recently set out on a county-by-county tour of the state school system, attempting to get a firsthand understanding of the challenges West Virginia's teachers and students face.
He already has visited three counties and plans to visit more once school resumes in the fall.
"It's been a great learning experience," he said. "I'm now going to be able to be much more active in the West Virginia Education Alliance than I had been."
Baxter said he also wants to help bring more business to West Virginia.
"Orrick represents living proof of what we can do in West Virginia in the 21st century, how we can combine what technology enables with the great people of West Virginia to offer superior opportunities for service to companies around the country and around the world," he said.