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Capito Declines to Run for Byrd’s Senate Seat

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said on a state politics radio show this morning that she will not be a candidate in a special Senate election for the seat previously occupied by the late Robert Byrd (D).

Capito told Hoppy Kercheval, host of “Metronews Talkline,” that she would instead continue her House re-election campaign. Capito was first elected to her seat in 2000.

“I think that it’s not about me, it’s about what’s good for West Virginia,” she said. “And I think, in looking at everything here, that I will decline running for the Senate seat, decline running for two seats, and keep to my original commitment.”

Though state GOP lawmakers managed to get an amendment that would have allowed current candidates for other offices to also run in the Senate race — it’s been referred to as the “Capito Amendment” because it was obviously a way to get her into the race — into the compromise bill authorizing the special election, Capito said today she was concerned there would be confusion if she had run in both races.

“I think that it would look like it was power grab in some people’s minds,” she said. “I think the chaos that would have ensued trying to run for two offices I think wouldn’t serve the electorate.”

She also noted that her voice might be more effective in the House because Republicans are more likely to take it over than the Senate.

“My congressional voice is growing stronger every day and I think I can be very effective in the House, assuming I get re-elected,” she said.

Capito’s exit makes it more likely that Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democrats’ likely nominee for the seat, will win the election — she was widely viewed as the Republican candidate most likely to keep the race competitive. Still, even Capito appeared to be a long-shot to win — Manchin led her 53-39 percent in a Rasmussen Reports poll released earlier this month. Sen. Carte Goodwin (D), who was sworn in yesterday, will hold the seat until after the Nov. 2 election.

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