Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 11, 2014

‘I have decided to not seek the nomination’; Morefield not eyeing Puckett’s vacant Senate seat

TAZEWELL, Va. — Delegate James W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell, said Tuesday he will not seek the Republican nomination for the Senate seat vacancy created by the resignation of long-time Southwest Virginia lawmaker Phillip Puckett.

Puckett, a Democrat serving in Virginia’s 38th Senatorial District, resigned Monday citing family issues. His surprise resignation gave Republicans a one-seat majority advantage in the state Senate where lawmakers are currently involved in a bitter dispute over whether to accept federal Medicaid dollars under the new Affordable Care Act law.

Morefield said many residents in the 3rd Delegate District asked him to run for the state Senate seat.

“I am honored to receive the support from so many people encouraging me to run for Senate,” Morefield said in a statement released Tuesday. “After careful consideration, I have decided to not seek the nomination to run. With a declining population and loss of coal and coal-related jobs, it is imperative that our team focus our time and effort to see the current projects we are working on are successful. I am now a senior member of the House and feel confident that I can be more effective for the region by serving in the House at this time. The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of thousands is heartfelt and something that I hope to continue for many years to come."

Morefield said he is currently working on a project that could result in the creation of 500 jobs in the coalfields.

“The past year has been an exciting time for me with the formation of a private venture that I believe one day will provide the region with the opportunity to fuel vehicles with natural gas,” Morefield said. “Last spring, I was selected by The American Israel Public Affairs Committee to serve as part of a delegation of business leaders and elected officials traveling to Israel for the purpose of building a stronger relationship between Israel and the United States. As a result, we formed a partnership between Virginia Tech and Israeli investors that hope to create nearly 500 jobs in the coalfields. This project is now on the verge of being finalized.”

Morefield said a special election will be held soon to fill the Senate vacancy created by Puckett’s resignation.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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