PARKERSBURG - Reports that one-time U.S. Sen. Carte Goodwin ruled out a bid to run in 2014 have many in the Democratic Party unsure of who would be the best candidate to replace U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
Local Democrats said the picture also is unclear to them as to who would be the best candidate to run against U.S. Rep. Shelly Capito, R-W.Va., for the Senate seat in 2014.
Harold Brown, chairman of the Wood County Democratic Executive Committee, said he thought Goodwin would run. But now that he has ruled out a run, Brown said it may be too early to speculate on who may be the candidate.
"It may be too early to speculate," he said. "Just because Capito deemed this is the right time to announce does not mean it's time for the Democrats."
One other possible candidate is U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., who has represented southern West Virginia since 1977. Brown said Rahall does have a strong base in the state.
"At party gatherings he is quite popular; it would be a dark horse thing for him," Brown said.
Jean Grapes, a Wood County Democratic executive board member, said she thought former Gov. Gaston Caperton would run and would be the best candidate, but since he has stepped aside, she said she is not sure who would be the best candidate.
Grapes said there have been no discussions between the state party and the counties regarding a candidate.
"It may be too early, but that will take place," she said.
Grapes said the best candidate would be someone who would run on the platform of wanting to see Congress move forward. Grapes said she thinks the current situation in Washington may hurt Capito and help the right candidate win the seat.
"Someone who understands the Congress should not be so divided and to make things happen would be the best," she said. "Anyone who would run on that platform would win. The people of West Virginia understand we have trouble because of differences of opinion and Congress is at an all time low approval rating."
Jane Burdette, Wood County Democratic executive committee board member, said she has heard rumors but nothing is definite on possible Senate candidates.
"I've heard a number of names passed around since Democrats like to talk about who is the best candidate," she said. "A couple of them are in elected positions so I will not talk about them."
Burdette said the rumors about Caperton or Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin running do not seem possible. She said Rahall is well known but she does not think he would want to make the move to the Senate?
Burdette said she thinks the best candidate should be somebody willing to compromise on situations, not hold to strict Democratic or Republican beliefs.
"Someone willing to negotiate and willing to compromise for the betterment of everyone," she said "I think it is a little too early; everyone is just getting through the 2012 elections and they want to take a few months off from campaigning."
Tomblin, who was elected to his first full term in November, said he is not interested in pursuing a seat in the U.S. Senate at this time.
"I have been blessed with the wonderful privilege of taking the oath of office as governor. I'm honored to have this tremendous opportunity to serve the people of West Virginia. I look forward to spending my next four years as governor making West Virginia a better place to live, work, and raise a family."
Goodwin was quoted by the Associated Press as saying he is not interested in running for the Senate. He said his desire to raise his two young children with his wife pre-empted any serious thought of an election campaign.
"I don't feel like working in D.C. and seeing them on weekends," Goodwin told the AP. "It's just not something that appeals to me at this stage of my life."
Goodwin has ruled out running for Capito's seat as well, the AP said.
Now with his family's law firm, Goodwin told AP he's not swearing off a future run entirely.