CHARLESTON — Citing a shift in political winds, Sen. Patricia Rucker announced Tuesday that she would end her campaign to become the next president of the West Virginia Senate. Rucker, R-Jefferson, made the announcement on Tuesday on her personal website. She said that since the Nov. 8 general election, in which the Republican majority in the Senate grew from 23 seats to 30 out of a total of 34, the support she once had evaporated.
“At the time I announced my candidacy, I believed I had the votes needed to win. Today, November 22, I no longer believe that.” said Rucker. “They say that all things happen in their time. I realize that at this time it would be in the best interests of all concerned for me to withdraw my nomination for West Virginia Senate President.”
Rucker first announced her intention to challenge Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, in late August, citing a lack of action at the time on tax reform and abortion restrictions. At a special session over the summer, Gov. Jim Justice’s bill to cut personal income taxes by 10% hit a brick wall after the Senate refused to pass the bill after the House passed it. Instead, the Senate passed a resolution supporting a plan to eliminate taxes on tangible personal property, pending Amendment 2 being passed by voters. Amendment 2 was defeated during the November 8th midterm elections. Rucker also supported stricter abortion restrictions and voted House Bill 302 during the summer special session that ended Sept. 13. However, she was unhappy with the time it took Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives to find a compromise.
“…I gave these reasons for running for this position: ‘I believe the people of our state want more from a large-majority Republican-led legislature, and so do I. We are now at a tipping point where momentum is faltering. We squander our chances. In the most recent special session, we accomplished literally nothing. No tax relief. No right to life law. No nothing.'”
“These reasons still apply” Rucker continued. “I believed that by running for Senate President I could offer an alternative that could act as a catalyst to create the unity needed to get things done. I still do.”
Rucker was first elected to the Senate in 2016 after the resignation of former Jefferson County Democratic Senator Herb Snyder, defeating Democratic attorney Stephen Skinner. She was appointed Chair of the Senate Education Committee in 2019 by former Senate President and Republican Jackson County Senator Mitch Carmichael. Blair has been Senate President since 2021. He was elected to the state Senate in 2012 after serving four terms in the House of Representatives beginning in 2002. Around the same time as Rucker’s announcement to seek the Senate President’s gavel, Blair announced that Senator Amy Grady, R-Mason, would replace Rucker as chair of the Senate Education Committee. Instead, on September 13, the Senate appointed the new Special Committee on Alternative Education Opportunities. Blair appointed Rucker to chair the special committee that will continue work on educational choice efforts.
“I will never stop fighting for the people of the 16th Senate district, as I have done every day since I was elected.” said Rucker. “I will never stop fighting for what I believe is right and what will make West Virginia a better place for all of its citizens. These guiding principles will never change, regardless of who may be leading the Senate.”
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at [email protected]