Many Republicans had discounted prospects that Capito, a five-term congresswoman, would challenge Manchin in the special election, even after legislation passed Monday to regulate the special election included an amendment clarifying that the special election is separate and distinct from the Nov. 2 general election.
Sen. Mike Hall, R-Putnam, who offered the amendment, said at the time it would probably only increase the odds Capito would run from a 10 percent chance to a 30 percent chance.
Capito campaign spokesman Kent Gates told the Gazette Tuesday that Capito's advisers had serious doubts about whether that provision would outweigh state election law that prohibits candidates for filing for two offices -- and mandates that violators have their names removed from the ballot entirely.
In her statement Wednesday, Capito said, "My candidacy would create more uncertainty, invite a legal challenge, and misrepresent my priorities as a public servant. The outcome could ultimately place my re-election to the House of Representatives in jeopardy, and would leave the final decision in the hands of state officials rather than the voters."
Capito added, "West Virginians are fair minded people who understand the importance of fulfilling their obligations. I intend to stick to my commitments to the people of the 2nd District because it is in the best interest of our state. For these reasons, I will not be a candidate for U.S. Senate this year, and with the voters support, I intend to serve my full term in the House of Representatives and not run for any other office until 2012."
At the end of the workday Wednesday, no Republicans had filed with the secretary of state's office as candidates for the special election.
The filing deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, although certificates of candidacy postmarked prior to the deadline and received by the secretary of state's office by 5 p.m. Saturday will be accepted.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.