CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Democrats must keep looking for a West Virginia candidate to run in 2014 when U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller retires, after lead prospect and onetime U.S. Sen. Carte Goodwin ruled out a bid.
Goodwin told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his desire to raise his two young children with his wife pre-empted any serious thought of an election campaign.
"I don't feel like working in D.C. and seeing them on weekends," Goodwin told the AP. "It's just not something that appeals to me at this stage of my life."
Democrats are searching for a candidate with Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito already in the running. The 2nd District congresswoman vowed to pursue Rockefeller's Senate seat before the 75-year-old Democrat announced in January that he'll retire. West Virginia's senior senator and a former two-term governor, Rockefeller is completing his fifth term on Capitol Hill.
Capito, 59, is a former state legislator first elected to the U.S. House in 2000. She's since kept the seat by comfortable margins amid repeated Democratic attempts to recapture it, enhancing her status as the state's most formidable GOP candidate. Her district includes both the state capital, Charleston, and the rapidly growing Eastern Panhandle.
Goodwin, who turns 39 next week, has also ruled out seeking Capito's open House seat in 2014. He was appointed to the Senate by then-Gov. Joe Manchin following the June 2010 death of Robert C. Byrd. Previously the governor's general counsel, Goodwin held the seat until a special election that November which Manchin won.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed Goodwin to a two-year term on the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission in late 2011, after Manchin and Rockefeller nominated him for the post. Goodwin said Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, vice chairman of the Senate's Democratic Caucus, were among those who had encouraged him to seek to succeed Rockefeller.
"It's very flattering," Goodwin said. "Ultimately, it was just a personal decision for me. Before I considered political, tactical issues associated with campaigning for office, I had to answer the threshold question, which is, 'Do I want to do this job?'"
Now with his family's law firm, Goodwin also told AP he's not swearing off a future run entirely.
"I've seen the kind of profound impact you can have on peoples' lives when you are in that sort of position," he said of his Senate tenure. "My interest in public service remains strong, but it tends to reside more here in the state... West Virginia has given me so much. I want to identify the best path and the best opportunity to give back."