I was a little bummed by the news because I felt Goodwin was our best candidate to go up against Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (D. WV-2) in 2014 Senate race because of his name recognition and his connection to former Governor and current U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D. WV). But there's a number of potential candidates that could run for this seat but the past few diaries where I have conducted polls, the majority of people that took poll chose West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) to be our candidate to run for Senate. Tennant by the way has expressed interest in the race:
In my last two Est Virginia Senate diaries, I listed all the potential candidates to succeed Rockefeller and in both polls, Tennant received the majority vote. So I decided to do some research on Tennant and see if she would be our ideal candidate. I must say I liked a lot of what I found about her."I haven't ruled anything in or out," Tennant told the Hotline, adding that she had received several phone calls and emails today urging her to look seriously at mounting a bid for Rockefeller's seat. "I'm seriously going to do that," she said. "I owe it to myself, to the people of West Virginia, to the secretary of state's office. ... I've proved that I can win statewide elections." - National Journal, 1/11/13
Before becoming Secretary of State, Tennant was a television broadcaster and reporter for WBOY-TV in Clarksburg and later at WCHS-TV in Charleston. She was also the co-owner of Wells Media Group, a video production and media training company based in Charleston that she co-founded with her husband, State Senator Erik Wells (D-Kanawha) who was a popular co-anchor of the morning show, Good Morning, West Virginia, which was based in Charleston, the state capital. Wells is also a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves who did an eight-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. Here's a touching video of Tennant and Wells making a surprise homecoming appearance at their daughter, Delaney's school:
Two interesting facts about Tennant's husband. In the State Senate, Wells helped pass a bill banning discrimination in housing or employment based on sexual orientation that you could read more about here:
The other interesting factor is Tennat's husband ran a pretty strong and aggressive campaign against Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (WV-2) in the 2000 Election. Wells hammered Capito for being hypocritical in only agreeing to one debate when she had urged her opponent to debate in every county in the Congressional district. Wells experience running against Capito could be helpful for Tennant if she decides to run against Capito in the 2014 Senate race.
When Goodwin announced he would not run, David Nir said that was a good thing because the Democrats would have a much better shot at holding onto this seat with a populist candidate over a generic business-friendly Democrat. Tennant's background as Secretary of State I think makes her a good fit for Nir's description of a populist candidate:
Lets take a closer look at Tennant's achievements. First off, Tennant has proven to be a legit public servant who is serious about cutting government waste that is a burden for West Virginia taxpayers and has proven to make her office effective with a smaller budget:During her tenure as Secretary of State, Tennant has dedicated herself to making government accountable and never wasting taxpayer dollars. She cut outdated programs, eliminated excessive spending in her office, and made government more accessible to West Virginians.
As a small business owner herself, Tennant knows the importance of ensuring that business in West Virginia thrives. The largest division Tennant oversees as Secretary of State is business and licensing – and she has made efficiency, access, and cutting red tape for small businesses hallmarks of her tenure as Secretary. The work she does there is vital to the economy of West Virginia and literally keeps businesses running. In 2010, as the result of Tennant’s commitment to making the Secretary of State’s Office more business friendly, the number of online filings nearly doubled to more than 16,000.
Tennant has also successfully fought for initiatives to make the voting process more streamlined, secure, and accessible. In just two years as Secretary of State, Tennant helped West Virginia become a worldwide leader in safe and secure online voting for overseas and deployed military, ensuring that our men and women in uniform can cast their ballot when performing their duty for their country. - Momocrats
Tennant's office has made voting and voter protection top priorities in West Virginia:Tennant submitted a budget request of $1.2 million to the House Finance Committee. The request is about $4,000 less than was recommended for her office in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's proposed state budget and about $90,000 less than the current year.
That decrease represents the 7.5 percent budget cut Tomblin requested of many public agencies.
"When you're the smallest constitutional office, smallest physically as far as office space and smallest in terms of employees, it wasn't a large number," Tennant said.
Tennant said her office has reduced its budget by 15 percent during her tenure.
The office also has spent more on "technology improvements," she said. Many of those changes mean less time spent on paperwork and less actual paper used.
Anyone who has recently tried to navigate the secretary of state's website for campaign information might question how those funds have been spent. Tennant admits more web upgrades are needed.
"Yes, we want it to be as easily accessible as possible. The reason I asked for technology authority to spend the technology funds is we have got to improve our campaign finance reporting system," Tennant said.
"It's all there, all the information is there. We just want to make it . . . easier to read, more user-friendly," she said.
She said the business application portal also needed attention. It's not a matter of more funds but rather going in and conducting the work itself, she said.
Tennant said she takes pride in being a good steward of public money, and her reputation of careful spending carries over to her staff. - Charleston Daily Mail, 2/22/13
Tennant has also been a vocal advocate for government transparency. She made transparency a central campaign issue in her run for Governor in 2011:I have fought to protect our right to vote at the same time leading investigations that have lead to more convictions of election law violations than any other Secretary of State. There has been no other secretary as tough on election fraud as I am, and my record proves it.
I worked to make it easier for people in outlying areas of their counties to cast a ballot during the early voting period by making a voting location available in their community. Through my leadership and forward thinking, West Virginia has led the nation when it comes to safe and secure online voting for our military members serving overseas. Making sure our military has accessible voting has been a priority of mine.
When West Virginia was faced with unprecedented demands in filling the vacancy left by the death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, I oversaw a special election that ensured the voters of West Virginia could fairly choose their representative on a shortened timeline. - The Herald-Dispatch, 10/21/12
Tennant's support for transparency not only stretches out towards local gorvenment but also for campaign finance reform:The 42-year-old Tennant, a Democrat, spoke with The Herald-Dispatch Editorial Board on Wednesday and outlined her plans for increased government transparency, accountability and technological innovations to propel the state forward.
"Folks are asking, 'Why now? Why are you running now?' and I think it's an important time to have this opportunity. We need a new approach, new energy. We are West Virginians who deserve a government that is accountable to them and works as hard as they do," Tennant said. "This government is not my government, but all of ours."
As secretary of state, Tennant said she has already shown the results of increased accountability in her office.
"As governor, I would support a sunshine portal, a transparency initiative. Can you imagine if we say we're going to invest in 'x,' actually being able to see where your tax dollars are going? I've already shown that accountability in the Secretary of State's office and I'm the perfect person to lead that forward," she said. "If we can use our resources to open up the government, that's a game-changer." - The Herald-Dispatch, 3/31/11
Lord knows we need more advocates of overturning Citizens United and I am happy to hear Tennant is one of them. The bill her and the Senate President support also has the support from the American Federation of Teachers – West Virginia; Fairness West Virginia; Marshall University Democracy Matters; the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition; West Virginia Citizens Action Group and West Virginians for Democracy.Elected officials joined members of West Virginians for Democracy Feb. 19 at the Capitol to rally for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission.
The group considers that decision unconstitutional, because it gives corporations the green light to fund elections just as people are permitted to spend unlimited funds in elections.
Currently, 11 states have passed resolutions seeking an amendment to overturn the decision.
The group's proposed resolution would enable the federal and state government to regulate all forms of campaign expenditures while limiting the constitutional rights of corporations. A similar resolution proposed last year had 56 sponsors in the House of Delegates and 10 sponsors in the Senate.
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant spoke in favor of the resolution, along with Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall. The bill already has several sponsors this year. - The State Journal, 2/19/13
Another thing I like about Tennant is she is a Technocrat and encourages the use of technology to help make government more efficient. When she ran for Governor, she campaigned on being the technology governor:
She also campaigned on an increase in severance tax on natural gas drilled in the Marcellus Shale, environmental responsibility, ensuring clean water and repairing infrastructure. Tennant also advocated reforming how the West Virginia cracks down on drug abuse:Tennant said she would be the "technology governor," pushing for broadband opportunities, using video communication for increased government transparency and creating more programs like the one used in her administration as Secretary of State to help military members overseas participate in the voting process. - The Herald-Dispatch, 3/31/11
"The economy is big, of course, but dealing with the drug abuse problems is one of my priorities as well. Drug abuse does not discriminate. It's killing our people, destroying our families and putting a strain on our jails and judicial system," she said. "How are we going to rehabilitate folks? Can we get folks to work? Can they come to a day center instead of jail? I think we can put folks in day centers, let them get their GEDs and have them help clean up our communities. I think we need to focus on rehabilitation. It's core to our society."Tennant's populist campaign of transparency and accountability helped her out in the polls in the 2011 special election to succeed then governor Joe Manchin (D) who went on to fulfill the vacant Senate seat left by Robert Byrd (D) who passed away in office:
Tennant said funds earmarked for treatment, recovery and rehabilitation must be proven to be used efficiently.
"If we're going to put $500,000 in a program, let's see how it's spent and then increase funding from there," she said. "It goes back to accountability and transparency." - The Herald-Dispatch, 3/31/11
Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) ended up winning both the primary and the special election but the Governor's race gave Tennant the experience needed to gear up for a big race like the 2014 Senate race. Tennant's record as Secretary of State helping make West Virginia a great place for businesses to operate. She has instituted a number of initiatives to make it easier for businesses to operate in West Virginia, including eliminating transaction fees for businesses that file online, expanding online services to include obtaining Certificates of Existence and Certificates of Authorization, and setting up a mobile Secretary of State’s office to help business owners file annual reports. Under Tennant, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office saw a significant increase in online business filings. So Tennant has a great record of job creation to run on, which is good because Capito already has the backing of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce:Earning co-front runner status on the Democratic side with Tomblin is Tennant. She has comparable name recognition to him and is also overwhelmingly popular with the voters who know her- 43% rate her favorably to only 19% with a negative opinion. She leads Ireland by 11 points at 43-32, and Barnes and Stuart each by 26 points at 49-23 and 48-22 respectively. - PPP, 1/26/11
Now for those of you not familiar with Tennant's background, you're probably thinking, "she's from West Virginia so she's probably a Blue Dog like Joe Manchin." I can understand you having that immediate reaction but she isn't. First off, unlike Manchin or Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, she's not afraid to be on the same stage as Obama and her fellow Democrats:West Virginia’s Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito will be the featured speaker for the 2013 Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce annual dinner, which will be hosted April 19 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Chamber CEO and President Ellen Taylor said the reception will start at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will start at 6:30 p.m.
“We selected Shelley Moore Capito because we understand that she is going to run for the Senate seat that Jay Rockefeller is going to vacate,” Taylor said.
“We saw this as an opportunity for us to get to know her. She’s not really been active in this area, so it’s an opportunity for everyone to get to know her, because at some point in time, she will be on the ballot and we will have to vote for or against her.” - The Register-Herald, 2/22/13
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says she’s disappointed state leaders like U.S. Senator Joe Manchin are not attending this week’s Democrat National Convention in Charlotte, NC.Now as expected, Tennant admits that she does not see eye to eye with Obama regarding coal. That's the be expected, considering she comes from coal country. But she said she agrees with Obama and the party on several issues. She is a strong supporter of woman's right to choose and protecting women's reproductive rights:
Speaking on MetroNews Talkline Thursday from the DNC, Tennant said, "It would have been nice to have [Manchin] here. I wanted to see him here. I’m disappointed,” Tennant said.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin as well as Third District Congressman Nick Rahall also chose not to attend the convention. Sen. Jay Rockefeller is the only national representative from West Virginia to make the trip to Charlotte. Rockefeller was one of the first to back Obama during the 2008 election. - Metro News, 9/6/12
“WCF-endorsed candidate and current West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant was the only woman running in West Virginia’s Democratic Gubernatorial Primary. Five men were running against her. While Natalie did not win her primary on May 14th, she led a remarkable campaign that made me – and the entire WCF community – proud to support her. I am confident Natalie will continue to serve West Virginians as their Secretary of State, and sincerely hope WCF has the opportunity to support Natalie in her political career again.”Tennant was endorsed by NARAL both in her run for Governor and her 2012 re-election campaign for Secretary of State. If Tennant does decide to run for Senate, she will have NARAL and EMILY's List backing because EMILY's list has made Capito a top target for 2014:
The Women’s Campaign Forum is the country’s only national, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing the political participation and leadership of women who support reproductive health choices for all. - Women's Campaign Fun, 5/16/11
While Capito might get the backing of the coal industry, Tennant could get the backing of coal miners since her and Manchin made Coal Miner Appreciation Day an official holiday in West Virginia:EMILY's List, the group that works to support progressive female candidates, is adding five lawmakers to its list of top targets going into 2014, due to what the group calls their "appallingly anti-woman, anti-family records" and the availability of a strong challenger.
The group is highlighting Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Gary Miller (Calif.), Daniel Webster (Fla.) and Bill Young (Fla.).
Capito announced late last year that she will be running for retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller's (D-W.Va.) seat, giving both parties an open seat to pursue. - The Hill, 1/29/13
I think 2014 could be another big year for female candidates. We have Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D. PA-13) putting together a gubernatorial run against Tom Corbett (R. PA) who is deeply unpopular with female voters. We have Elizabeth Colbert-Busch (D. SC-1) running for Congress in the special election and her opponent could very well be disgraced former governor, Mark Sanford (R. SC). You also have Ashley Judd seriously considering running against Mitch McConnell (R. KY) in Kentucky. With the GOP's record on women's issues, especially continuously stalling the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. To Capito's credit, she did vote for the reauthorization of the VAWA but she urged her party to finally vote for because she knew that would hurt her chances in the general election. If Tennant gets in the race, I think she could run a strong campaign that can get younger voters out to the polls. She's been involved with educating youth voters about the process. Unfortunately the embedding feature has been disabled on this video but you should watch this video of Tennant speaking to high school seniors about the process:Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant joined with Governor Joe Manchin in honoring West Virginia coal miners Friday, creating a holiday to recognize their contributions to the Mountain State’s economy, heritage, and future.
Tennant and Manchin signed the proclamation creating “Coal Miner Appreciation Day” on the Sunday before Labor Day. They were joined by miners, union representatives, and officials from the West Virginia Coal Association in the shadow of the Coal Miner Statue at the Capitol Complex.
Tennant and Manchin both thanked the West Virginia Young Democrats, especially the members from Mingo County, who were the driving force behind the legislation that became Coal Miner Appreciation Day.
“There are very few of us in West Virginia whose family has not been touched by coal mining,” Tennant said. “Whether we are from the south coalfields, or where I’m from in the northern part of the state where we have seen so many tragedies, coal mining is a part of what it means to be a West Virginian.” - Williamson Daily News, 8/15/09
Defeating Capito will not be an easy task. She has a lot of name recognition and is the daughter of former Governor Arch Moore (R. WV). On the surface it looks like Capito has this race in the bag because West Virginia is a conservative state that Bush won in 2000 and 2004, McCain won in 2008 and Romney won in 2012. But West Virginia is still Democratic territory. Bill Clinton won West Virginia in 1992 and 1996. Both Senate seats have a long history of electing Democrats and Democrats control the state legislature and Governorship. Now Capito has a shot at winning over conservative Democrats in the state because she's an establishment Republican but she's also a top target of the Club For Growth:
“Today, along comes Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. Her candidacy will undoubtedly be cheered by the GOP establishment, and dire warnings will be issued against any ‘divisive’ primary challenges, lest other candidates hurt Capito’s chances of winning,” continued Chocola. “The problem is that Congresswoman Capito’s record looks a whole lot like the establishment candidates who lost this year. Congresswoman Capito has a long record of support of bailouts, pork, and bigger government. She voted to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for massive expansions of government-run health insurance, giveaways to big labor, and repeatedly voted to continue funding for wasteful earmarks like an Exploratorium in San Francisco and an Aquarium in South Carolina. That’s not the formula for GOP success in U.S. Senate races.” - Chris Chocola, President of The Club For Growth, 11/26/12
The Club For Growth has yet to come up with a candidate to challenge Capito but there is still plenty of time for them to come up with one. Who knows, they could always settle for this guy:
Morgantown businessman John Raese called on West Virginia University President James Clements Thursday to scrap a tentative media rights deal with IMG College and West Virginia Media Holdings.
In a letter to Clements, Raese said WVU should rebid the contract, alleging that top WVU officials violated university and state purchasing rules when IMG was selected to handle the university's lucrative third-tier media rights. Raese described the bid process as "defective."
"There are obvious questions about conflicts of interest, and the fact that WVU failed to follow its own [rules] and state purchasing regulations," said Bob Gwynne, lawyer for Raese-owned Greer Industries. "We have numerous concerns." - The Charleston Gazette, 2/21/13
This would be Raese's fifth time running for Senate. he's constantly won the GOP nominee and he is wealthy and could fund his own campaign. Yes, he's a nut job but that hasn't stopped the Club For Growth from backing him. Plus if there's no one else crazy enough to go up against Capito, he might be their best shot. So we shall see. But we can't rely on the Club For Growth or the Tea Party alone to help us win this race. If Tennant jumps in, she needs to run like Capito has the nominee because it will help her run a tough and aggressive campaign.
Tennant's background as a reporter, her record as Secretary of State and her reach out efforts with youth voters have earned her high popularity and could give her the shot at winning this race. She's smart and her message of transparency in government makes her a trust worthy candidate. She's not afraid to stand with her party's platform and though she might be a risky choice in this race, she could very well pull this off. I think Manchin would certainly come out for her which would be a good thing for her on the campaign trail. West Virginia is still our turf and I for one refuse to give it up this easily. 2014 is a while a way but if Tennant does decide to jump in, I will gladly campaign for her through my diaries. I want to make 2014 another great year for women because it's time to shake up the boys club in West Virginia. So that's my thoughts on a Tennant candidacy. I now leave you with this John Denver classic: