The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

August 13, 2013

Rockefeller honored guest at Jefferson-Jackson Dinner

CHARLESTON — Vice President Joe Biden is keynoting the event, but the man of the hour at this fall’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner hosted by West Virginia Democrats is retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a two-term governor who launched his career as a VISTA volunteer.

Rockefeller followed former Republican Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr. into the governor’s mansion after losing to him in a celebrated 1972 match-up, then won his seat in the U.S. Senate in 1984, and has been there since.

The scion of a wealthy New York family has announced his retirement, ending a political journey that began as a member of the House of Delegates and also a stint as West Virginia secretary of state.

“I can think of no better person to highlight the years of service Sen. Rockefeller has given to our state and country than Vice President Biden,” state Democratic Chairman Larry Puccio said Monday.

“Joe Biden’s outstanding leadership is an inspiration to us all. For decades, Vice President Biden has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of middle-class families all across the United States, just like Sen. Rockefeller.”

The event is planned Oct. 12 at the Charleston Civic Center.

Rockefeller arrived in the hamlet of Emmons, Kanawha County, as a VISTA volunteer in 1964 and won his House seat two years later.

“Nearly 50 years ago, I found my true home here in West Virginia, and I learned firsthand that public service isn’t a job or a hobby — it’s a passion and a way of life,” Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller praised the Democrats for singling him out for the Jefferson-Jackson Day honor and “the incredible people of this state, who have given me the privilege of serving them in office for all these many years.”

A great-grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, he is the only member of the Republican family to hold public office as a Democrat.

Rockefeller was elected as secretary of state in 1968, then lost to Moore four years later in a hard-fought contest for the governorship.

In his tenure as a senator, he has devoted much of his efforts on veterans causes and to cleaning up graphic violent content in movies, television shows and video games.

Before his retirement announcement last year, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., disclosed she would seek his seat, triggering a wave of pre-candidacy filings by Democrats and Republicans alike hoping to succeed her in the 2nd Congressional District.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

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