WHEELING - U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley says he could challenge U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat now held by Jay Rockefeller if she fails to call for a hard line on federal spending in the coming months.
McKinley, R-Wheeling, is beginning his second two-year term representing West Virginia's 1st District. Capito, R-Charleston, was first elected in the 2nd District in 2000.
McKinley spokesman Jim Forbes confirmed Friday that McKinley made the comments to a statewide news audience Thursday.
"I have told them (Republican leaders) I am, right now, watching to see what happens with Shelley, how well she continues to maintain a fiscal policy that is good for this country," McKinley said. "If she is not going to be that fiscal hawk that is going to make sure that we get our spending under control, then we'll find another candidate."
Capito announced in late November she would not seek re-election to the House in 2014, but instead would run for Senate.
Interest in a potential GOP primary matchup between the two came to the forefront Friday after Rockefeller, D-W.Va., announced he would not seek re-election.
"Basically, he hasn't ruled it out," Forbes said Friday.
Capito said Rockefeller has served West Virginia with distinction for more than 40 years.
"Jay has always been a true gentlemen and hard-working statesman while working hard on the challenges that face our state and country," she said.
"While we disagree on many policy issues, the number one concern for both of us has always been the welfare of West Virginians," she added. "I consider him a personal friend and thank him for his service. Best wishes for him, his wife Sharon and their family."
McKinley also thanked Rockefeller for his service.
"Jay has devoted much of his life to working on behalf of the people of the Mountain State," McKinley said. "I wish him a fulfilling retirement to be spent with his wife, Sharon, and his children and grandchildren."