Rockefeller heading for the sidelines


John RockefellerSen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, but his tenure at the gavel now has a deadline – he has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2014.

“As I approach 50 years of public service in West Virginia, I’ve decided that 2014 will be the right moment for me to find new ways to fight for the causes I believe in and to spend more time with my incredible family. Serving West Virginia in the U.S. Senate is an abiding honor and privilege, and Sharon and I are so full of gratitude to our state and to the countless friends and supporters who have made my public service possible,” Rockefeller said. “For the next two years in the Senate, and well beyond, I will continue working tirelessly on behalf of all West Virginians. Championing those most in need has been my life’s calling, and I will never stop fighting to make a difference for the people who mean so much to me.”

Rockefeller discussed his priorities in the Commerce Committee for the duration of his career, and made no mention of any broadcast issues.

Two members of the West Virginia House delegation have expressed interest in Rockefeller’s seat. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) has already announced her candidacy, but may face a primary according to The Hill; and Nick Rahall (D-WV) has also expressed interest.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is the second-ranking Democrat currently sitting on the Commerce Committee.

Upon stating his intentions, Rockefeller received good wished from a number of key players in the Washington communications community.

* FCC Chair Julius Genachowski: “During his 30 years in the Senate, Chairman Rockefeller has been a strong leader for the people of West Virginia and all consumers, ensuring that schoolchildren everywhere have access to the Internet through the E-Rate program and establishing the nationwide public safety communications network called for by the 9/11 Commission. Chairman Rockefeller’s fierce advocacy for consumers and unwavering commitment to advancing the public interest have improved the lives of countless Americans. I look forward to continuing to work with him as he completes his term.”

* NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith: “I have tremendous respect for Sen. Rockefeller, both as a former Senate colleague and as a friend. His passion for public service is second to none, and NAB looks forward to working with him over the next two years as he completes a remarkable political career.”

* American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka “The American Cable Association has nothing but the highest praise for Sen. Rockefeller, who has been a constant champion to ensure consumers have access to competitive communications markets and who speaks out when market power threatens the public interest. Rural America has had a terrific champion in Sen. Rockefeller, and ACA has appreciated working with him over the years. Sen. Rockefeller’s absence from the Senate will be felt for a long time, but ACA looks forward to engaging with him over the next two years on important communications issues. We know Sen. Rockefeller will remain active and speak out on the issues important not only to the State of West Virginia but to all of rural America.”