CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For years Democrat Nick Casey helped others pursue political office.
The former chairman of the state party said Tuesday the time is right for his own run, and he announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress.
"I'm running because we have a problem in Washington. I'm sure, just like you, you're totally fed up with the gridlock in D.C.," Casey said.
"I can get along. I can work with people. I can reach across and have a conversation...Send me to Washington and I will help get things done for all of us," he continued.
In late 2012, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced her intention to run for U.S. Senate. Shortly thereafter Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said he would retire after his term ended in 2014. Rockefeller said the decision had nothing to do with Capito.
Casey served as head of the West Virginia Democratic Party from 2004 to 2010. He is managing partner of the Charleston-based law firm Lewis, Glasser, Casey & Rollins as well as a certified public accountant.
In February he was elected treasurer of the American Bar Association, the national organization for the legal profession. He has served as president of the state bar association as well and volunteers with the Catholic church.
As state party chairman, he said he learned it was important to focus on candidates and not be a candidate. He worked to support Democrat campaigns in the state at all levels, including the West Virginia efforts of President Barack Obama.
Obama lost every county in the last election. Casey said he expects opponents to try to link him and the president to capitalize on Obama's lack of popularity in this state.
"I expect everyone adversarial toward me to try to use the President of the United States as a drawback. But you know, that's all politics," Casey said. "By the time I'm elected, the president will be as lame a duck as you can have. This is about the future."
State GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas did bring up the president in response to Casey's announcement, adding he's confident a Republican will retain the seat Capito has held for a decade.
"In today's announcement Nancy Pelosi has found her recruit in Obama's desperate attempt to win the U.S. House of Representatives," Lucas said in an emailed statement. "They had to look no further than someone who has contributed to Al Gore and John Kerry."
Casey pointed out opponents of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, both Democrats, tried to tie those two with Obama in recent elections. Both won their races handily.
That doesn't mean Casey necessarily supports every aspect of the Obama agenda.
"He's got an EPA that's got no rules, got no restrictions, got no guidance. That's bad," Casey said. "He's got a stimulus package that sounded good but didn't deliver."
Although Manchin wasn't one of the roughly 50 people in attendance at the Capitol for the announcement, he showed his support for Casey in a letter read during the press conference.
"Nick is a problem solver," Jack Rossi, former chair of Charleston Area Alliance, read from the Manchin letter.
"Soak up Nick's enthusiasm, hit the streets and win this thing," it continued.
Casey likened his ability to get people to come together to traits espoused by Manchin.