It is unfortunate that Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., does not really represent most of his constituents here in the Mountain State. He has become a classic example of a so-called "progressive" who refuses to truly move forward with the people who sent him to Washington.
Rockefeller's decision not to run for re-election in 2014 came as no real surprise, then. Despite his enormous personal wealth, his long string of election successes and his leadership in a party that still dominates state politics, Rockefeller probably would have lost the 2014 election to Rep. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., who has announced her candidacy for a Senate seat.
For decades, the Rockefeller brand of liberalism played well in our state. During his two terms as governor, his free-spending philosophy kept him popular at the polls, paving the way for his election to the Senate, where he has served since 1985. He was especially careful not to alienate special interests such as the state's big teachers' unions.
All the while, under Rockefeller and several of his predecessors, what amounted to a gigantic state debt was building up. It was left to a successor, Gov. Gaston Caperton, and legislators during his tenure (1989-97) to begin the process of paying down billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities.
More and more during the past 20 years or so, West Virginians have come to realize that ultra-liberal politicians are leading us down a path to ruin.
Yet Rockefeller never changed. During recent years he has refused to battle President Barack Obama over the war against coal. He has supported liberal initiatives such as "Obamacare."
Most West Virginians - including many who consider themselves staunch Democrats - have matured politically. The state's other U.S. senator, Joe Manchin, represents their views on fiscal discipline and personal freedom much better than has Rockefeller.
When they go to the polls in November 2014, then, Mountain State voters will not be looking for a Rockefeller clone to succeed him. They will want - and vote for - exactly the opposite: someone who actually will represent us in the U.S. Senate.