|Secretary of State of West Virginia|
January 19, 2009
Earl Ray Tomblin
|Preceded by||Betty Ireland|
December 25, 1967 |
Fairmont, West Virginia, U.S.
|Alma mater||West Virginia University,
Natalie E. Tennant (born December 25, 1967) is the Secretary of State of West Virginia. She was elected in 2008 and officially took office on January 19, 2009. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Tennant is the 2014 Democratic Party nominee for West Virginia's open U.S. Senate seat.
Prior to her election as Secretary of State, Tennant was a television reporter and co-owner of a video production company.
Early life and education
Tennant grew up on a farm in Fairview, Marion County, West Virginia and is the daughter of Rose Mary (née Brunetti) and John D. Tennant, Jr. Her mother was of Italian descent. Tennant is a 1985 graduate of North Marion High School in Farmington, West Virginia. She graduated from West Virginia University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and she obtained a master’s degree in corporate and organizational communication from WVU in 2002. While at WVU, Tennant was selected in 1990 as the first woman to represent the university as the Mountaineers' mascot. Following completion of her undergraduate degree in 1991, Tennant began her career in television broadcasting and reporting.
West Virginia Secretary of State
In 2008, Tennant was elected secretary of state, beating out Republican candidate Charles Minimah with 65% of the vote.
In 2010, Tennant initiated a pilot online voting program that allowed 179 deployed West Virginian service members to vote via the Internet.
In 2012, the Secretary of State’s office issued a Republican primary ballot, which told voters to select 18 at-large delegates to the Republican National Convention when 19 were to be chosen. The error cost West Virginia $148,705 to reprint the ballots and another $64,000 to reprogram the digital voting machines.
In 2012, Tennant was criticized by Republicans, including the former Secretary of State Betty Ireland, for not having contested the entry of convicted felon Keith Judd, an inmate serving a 210 month sentence in Texas, on the West Virginia Democratic Presidential Primary ballot. While West Virginia law prohibits felons from holding state offices, there are no restrictions on federal offices.
In 2013, the Secretary of State’s office was late sending out change-of-address materials to election officials, which are sent out every two years to keep election rolls accurate. According to the Harrison County Clerk's office, the materials should have arrived at the end of 2013 to give officials time to send them out before the primary election in May 2014, but some county clerks did not receive the materials until April 2014 or later.
In 2012, Tennant, along with U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, led the investigation of Lincoln County Democratic officials who tried to flood the 2010 Democratic primary with fraudulent absentee ballots. In light of the investigation, two Democratic officials were charged with election fraud.
In 2013, Tennant returned $3 million in unused revenue to the state legislature after Tennant's department enacted cost-saving measures and settled two lawsuits for significantly less money than expected.
In 2014, a number of West Virginian political candidates were unable to file their campaign finance reports on the Secretary of State’s website due to issues with the online campaign finance reporting system. Tennant said "The company that was hired to update the campaign finance reporting system has not met the standards of my office, has not met the standards of the contract or what West Virginians deserve...They are being held accountable."
Tennant has received campaign funding from the Secretary of State Project, a 527 political action committee that supports progressive candidates for secretary of state positions in swing states.
On January 20, 2011, Tennant announced she was running for the Democratic nomination for Governor of West Virginia in the 2011 special gubernatorial election. Tennant focused her campaign on openness and accountability, which she says has been a hallmark of her tenure as Secretary of State.
U.S. Senate campaign
Tennant is running for the Senate in 2014. The seat is open after incumbent Democrat Jay Rockefeller announced his retirement. Tennant will face Republican Representative Shelley Moore Capito in the general election. Tenant did not face any significant primary opposition. She entered the race after ten prominent Democrats declined to run. In announcing her campaign, Tennant stated, "I will fight any Republican or any Democrat — including President Barack Obama — who tries to kill our energy jobs, whether they are coal, natural gas, wind or water.” Tennant has been endorsed by Senator Rockefeller, Senator Joe Manchin, and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. She was also endorsed by First Lady Michelle Obama, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who hosted a fundraiser for Tennant.
Tennant's largest donor in the 2014 campaign cycle is EMILY's List, a political action committee that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office. According to Politico and the New York Times, Tennant has sought to distance herself from President Obama. Tennant was an Obama delegate at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Prior to Tennant's election as Secretary of State, she was co-owner of Wells Media Group, a Charleston-based video production and media training company she operated with her husband, Democratic State Senator Erik Wells. Tennant and Wells have one daughter, Delaney, and reside in Charleston.
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- Miller, Dendra (May 24, 2012). "Secretary Of States Office To Pay More Than $200K For Ballot Blunder". The Glenville Democrat. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
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- "WV Code Section 6-5-5". West Virginia Code. West Virginia Legislature. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
- "Lincoln County officials admit to stuffing ballot box". Charleston Daily Mail. 2012-01-30. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
- Eyre, Eric (12 September 2013). "Secretary of State's Office returns $3M to W.Va.'s coffers". The Charleston Gazette. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- Boucher, David (2014-04-29). "Tennant: Vendor to blame for website issues". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- Laskow, Sarah (11-6-2008). "Democrats dominate secretary of state races in toss-up states". Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- Neubauer, Chuck (2011-06-23). "Soros and liberal groups seeking top election posts in battleground states". Washington Times. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- Wiser, Daniel (2014-05-20). "Democrat Natalie Tennant Received Thousands from Liberal Megadonors". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- Fritz, Doug (January 20, 2011). "Tennant Announces Candidacy for Governor". WVNS-TV. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- "Associated Press Reports on WV Gubernatorial Special Election". Retrieved 28 March 2011.
- "Public Policy Polling - W.Va. Governor's Race". Retrieved 28 March 2011.
- Lavender, Paige (2013-09-13). "Natalie Tennant Senate Run: West Virginia Secretary Of State Preparing Campaign". Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- Kercheval, Hoppy (13 September 2013). "Tennant to run for U.S. Senate". Metro News. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- Kercheval, Hoppy (22 August 2013). "Natalie Tennant said to be considering Senate run". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- Gabriel, Trip (2013-12-28). "West Virginia Democrats Face an Uneasy Time". New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- Hohmann, James (17 September 2013). "West Virginia Senate race 2014: Natalie Tennant seeks distance from Obama, coal policy". Politico. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- Nyden, Paul J. (17 September 2013). "Tennant announces run for Senate". The Charleston Gazette. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- Boucher, Dave (November 19, 2013). "Michelle Obama backs Natalie Tennant in US Senate race". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
- Mattise, Jonathan (June 23, 2014). "Sen. Elizabeth Warren to campaign for Tennant in W.V". The Charleston Gazette. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
- Livingston, Abby (2013-09-26). "EMILY’s List Endorses West Virginia Senate Candidate". Roll Call. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant
- Natalie Tennant for U.S. Senate campaign site
- Natalie Tennant at DMOZ
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Interview with Natalie Tennant On WV PBS October, 2008
|Secretary of State of West Virginia
|Party political offices|
|Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from West Virginia