McCabe says he won’t run in 2014
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Longtime state Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, announced Tuesday he will not run for re-election in 2014.
"I've always been concerned about staying too long," McCabe said of his decision. "Sixteen years is a nice tour of duty, and it's time to give someone else a chance."
A Charleston real estate developer, McCabe's dealt with complicated and contentious issues during his tenure in the Senate, including privatization of workers' compensation insurance, providing funding for future health care costs for retired state and public school employees (also known as the OPEB liability), and various tax reform measures.
McCabe, 64, has also considered a run for governor, but said he has no future political plans at the moment.
"At this stage, I'd like to back away and reassess everything," he said.
McCabe said his immediate interests upon leaving the Senate will be writing an economic history of Charleston -- and devoting more time to his new role as a grandfather.
McCabe said he made his decision after discussions with his wife, Barbie, during a vacation to Italy and France.
"She stressed that there's only so much time. You can't keep adding stuff to your schedule," he said.
McCabe said this is a key time of transition in the Legislature.
"I think it's important to get some new young leaders, and give them time to get experience in the Senate," he said.
In May, first-term Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, announced she would run for McCabe's 17th District Senate seat in 2014.
McCabe said he believes there are strong, young Democratic hopefuls for the seat, including Delegates Doug Skaff and Meshea Poore, both D-Kanawha.
Skaff said later Tuesday he will run for McCabe's Senate seat, and will make a formal announcement later in the week.
"I will be seeking his Senate seat on the Democratic side, regardless of what happens in the House," Skaff said, referring to the race for House speaker. Skaff has sided with House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, against House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison, whom it is believed has secured enough votes to win the House Democratic caucus nomination sometime later this month.
Meanwhile, Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, praised McCabe for his willingness to take on tough issues, and his tenancy to see them through.
"He always had a steadfast willingness to do the work, and get it through the Legislature, no matter how long it took," Kessler said. "Sometimes it took two or three times to get it through."
He said McCabe's legislative legacy will be that he helped make changes that made the state better.
"He will be missed, and he has served both the Senate and the state with great distinction," Kessler said.
State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio also touted McCabe's efforts to improve the state and Kanawha Valley.
"Senator McCabe will have spent over 15 years in service to the state when his term is up," Puccio said in a statement. "He has spent that time quietly doing what matters most for the citizens of the Kanawha Valley."
McCabe said he believes the state's future is bright -- if state leaders "get it right this time" with development of Marcellus Shale drilling and spin-off industries.
"I remain extremely positive and optimistic about the future of West Virginia," McCabe said.
Reach Phil Kabler at email@example.com or 304-348-1220.