A long unsung hero in American politics and the US Senate is West Virginia’s former Governor Jay Rockefeller, who is retiring as Senator after thirty years of service at the end of 2014.
The only Democrat in the Rockefeller family political history has been an outstanding Senator for one of the poorest states, and will be remembered for how much he has done to promote the economic future of his state.
Jay Rockefeller could have replaced Senator Robert F. Kennedy by appointment of his uncle, Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, in 1968, but refused the opportunity and moved to the poor state of West Virginia, with the intention of bringing reform and change to his adopted state. He also refused to allow his father in law, Illinois Republican Senator Charles Percy, to use his influence in any way.
Instead, Jay Rockefeller worked his way up the political struggles to become a member of the West Virginia state legislature, Secretary of State, Governor of the state for two terms, and now finishing five terms in the US Senate.
Unlike his more famous uncle, Nelson Rockefeller, who sought the Presidency three times and was Vice President under Gerald Ford, Jay Rockefeller was satisfied to have an influence on his state, and to promote liberal Democratic ideas. He is now also actively engaged in investigation of the Chris Christie scandal, and is unafraid of challenging the status quo and the establishment’s leaders, always having supported and promoted progressive causes.
Jay Rockefeller has turned out to be more significant in many ways than his uncle Nelson, hard to believe, and certainly more so than his other uncle, Winthrop, Republican Governor of Arkansas in the late 1960s and early 1970s. And his career has been much longer, without any interest in seeking the Presidency in his younger years.
So Jay Rockefeller will be much missed when he retires from his distinguished career in the Senate at the end of this year!