West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant will announce next week that she is in the race for the US Senate seat being vacated by Jay Rockefeller. This is good news for Mountain State democrats who have been looking at the until-now unchallenged ascension of GOP Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito to front runner status.
Tennant has built a strong reputation as Secretary of State, transforming the office into a customer/business friendly institution on the "business" side and tackling some tough issues on the "elections" side. She's a political animal, to be sure, but has kept politics out of the office. She has shown the state she knows how to manage a major arm of government.
The Secretary is personable and approachable. She is at ease visiting bingo halls and VFD's as well as mingling with the state's business and political elite. Voters delight in just knowing her as "Natalie". Her time as the first female "Mountaineer" at WVU and a subsequent TV career have had her in the spotlight for a long time.
If you watch a recent interview I did with Ms. Tennant, you will see a woman who feels passionately about ideas, who believes the Senate seat demands someone who will not sit and follow but will step forward with ideas and lead.
She also does something I wish more WV Dems would do: defends the ideals of the Democratic Party rather than running away from them.
A recent poll puts Tennant within 5 points of Capito--before she even enters the race. State GOP party chair Conrad Lucas dismisses the poll out of hand, but it clearly is a sign that Capito is no longer in for an easy walk to the upper chamber.