09/17/2013 12:38 pm ET Updated Sep 17, 2013

Natalie Tennant Announces Senate Campaign, Hits Potential Rival Shelley Moore Capito


West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant officially announced her campaign for Senate on Tuesday.

Tennant, a Democrat, appeared in Charleston to debut her campaign after an initial announcement in Beckley Tuesday morning. She is making a series of stops throughout the Mountain State to promote her campaign.

She was joined by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state House Speaker Tim Miley and state Senate President Jeff Kessler during the appearance in Charleston.

Tennant will likely face off against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

In a statement provided to HuffPost, Rockefeller said he "firmly believes" Tennant should replace him, and he slammed Republicans for working against West Virginians.

"Republicans have offered West Virginia no solutions to the problems we face, and instead take action against us again and again -- voting to block mine safety reforms in the wake of the UBB tragedy, pushing to privatize Medicare and Social Security, and protecting their political friends on Wall Street at the expense of West Virginians," Rockefeller said. "Our people cannot afford to let this Senate seat fall in the hands of the party of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. We have too much at stake and too much to lose."

Tennant also hit Republicans during her announcement, criticizing her potential rival because she "supports privatizing Social Security and turning Medicare into a voucher program."

"There's no way around it. Congresswoman Capito has been part of the problem in a broken Congress for the last 13 years," Tennant said.

Ahead of Tennant's Tuesday event, Capito's campaign slammed the Secretary of State as a "liberal" who supports "President Obama's entire extreme agenda."

Capito's not the only one tying Tennant to Obama. The National Republican Senatorial Committee called Tennant "an Obama-supporting liberal more in the mold of Harry Reid than Joe Manchin when it comes to coal and energy, jobs, and ObamaCare" in a statement on Tuesday.

But Tennant distanced herself from Obama during the announcement, saying she is ready to fight any Republican or Democrat -- including the president -- who tries to kill energy jobs.

(h/t Dave Boucher)



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