Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ireland Need Not Resign to Run, IF She Runs for the Senate

Since Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito's decision to not run for the U.S. Senate next year, Republicans seeking one last hope of recruiting a viable opponent to Senator Byrd have turned to Secretary of State Betty Ireland.

Ireland, 58, became West Virginia's first woman statewide executive officeholder last year after defeating former 9-term congressman and 4-term Secretary of State Ken Hechler, 90. In her campaign, she wrote the rules for respectfully challenging an elderly officeholder, carefully running a strictly positive campaign that made no direct or indirect issue of her opponent's advanced age. Ireland also voluntarily limited herself to a $150,000 spending limit under the Code of Fair Campaign Practices written by Hechler, who nevertheless spent over $1 million of his personal funds on the race.

Some skeptics toward an Ireland Senate candidacy are objecting to her candidacy for another office while continuing as Secretary of State. However, Democrats seemed to have no problem when Democratic secretaries of state ran for other offices without first resigning the office of Secretary of State:

  • Jay Rockefeller, who unsuccessfully challenged Governor Arch Moore in 1972.
  • The late A. James Manchin, who was elected state Treasurer in 1984 (and who would have fared better had he remained SOS).
  • Ken Hechler, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1990 and 2000.
  • Governor Joe Manchin.