CHARLESTON- West Virginia's secretary of state is looking to become a U.S. senator.
On Tuesday, Democrat Natalie Tennant announced her candidacy to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014 during an event at Tamarack Conference Center in Beckley and other events in Morgantown and Charleston.
She is seeking the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announces that she will be running for the U.S. Senate in 2014 during a Tuesday news conference at Tamarack in Beckley.
U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has announced her intention to run for the seat.
Tennant said much of the optimism that has defined this state and its hard-working people has been increasingly replaced by the despair of a weakened economy and some politicians who think they are elected to serve their own agendas and not the people they are supposed to represent.
"I travel our state constantly," Tennant said. "I hear from many people who are concerned and flat-out angry about the direction in which our nation is heading.
"It's time for a new generation to say 'no' to the old Washington ways of doing business and turn to new leaders who will go the West Virginia way of getting things done," Tennant said.
Larry Puccio, chairman of the Democratic Party of West Virginia, said the state recruited Tennant to run for the U.S. Senate.
"I've seen it firsthand for months now - everywhere Natalie goes lately the people she meets have been calling out and encouraging her to run," Puccio said.
State Republican leaders were quick to connect Tennant's campaign to the policies and actions of President Barack Obama's administration that have been unpopular in areas of the state.
"West Virginia voters soundly rejected President Obama's plans to destroy our economy but Natalie Tennant stayed loyal to D.C. liberals and now they have chosen her to run for the United States Senate," said West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas.
Lucas said Tennant has championed the war on coal, defended the EPA and disenfranchised voters with a radical stance against voter ID laws.
"Simply put, Natalie Tennant chooses Barack Obama over West Virginia every chance she gets," he said.
In kicking off her campaign, Tennant spoke about the people who depend on the coal industry for their livelihood.
"Let me make this clear right here, right now - I disagree with the Obama administration's policies on coal," she said. "I will fight any Republican or any Democrat, including President Barack Obama, who tries to kill our energy jobs whether they are coal, natural gas, wind or water."
Tennant said that while there are parts of the Affordable Care Act that need to be fixed, others should be kept.
"A tree is only as strong as its roots, and my roots run deep in West Virginia," Tennant said. "I know how to fight for West Virginia. I know how to be heard. I know how to win.
"Together, we are going to send a strong message to Washington that we will take a back seat to nobody," Tennant said.