|29th Secretary of State of West Virginia|
January 19, 2009 – January 16, 2017
Earl Ray Tomblin
|Preceded by||Betty Ireland|
|Succeeded by||Mac Warner|
December 25, 1967|
Fairmont, West Virginia, U.S.
West Virginia University,|
Morgantown (BS, MA)
Natalie E. Tennant (born December 25, 1967) is an American politician who served as the Secretary of State of West Virginia from 2009 to 2017. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Tennant was the 2014 Democratic Party nominee for West Virginia's open U.S. Senate seat, she lost to Republican Shelley Moore Capito. In 2016 she was defeated for re-election by Republican Andrew 'Mac' Warner, and left office on January 16, 2017.
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 1986 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. The only other woman to serve as the Mountaineer was Rebecca Durst, who was selected in 2009. Tennant was subjected to harassment for being a female Mountaineer. At the selection ceremony where Tennant was named as the new mascot, some of the crowd booed her appointment. Cups were thrown at her, people spit on her, and fans developed chants, suggesting that Tennant needed to "get in the kitchen" and characterizing her as a "mountain deer."
Following completion of her undergraduate degree in 1991, Tennant began her career in television broadcasting and reporting. Tennant remained active in the WVU community, receiving the WVU Alumni Association's Margaret Buchanan Cole Young Alumni Award in 1997.
West Virginia Secretary of State
In 2008, Tennant was elected secretary of state, beating out Republican candidate Charles Minimah with 65% of the vote. During her campaign, she was supported by the Secretary of State Project, a 527 political action committee that supports progressive candidates for secretary of state positions in swing states.
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.
Tennant, along with U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, led the investigation of the Lincoln County 2010 Democratic primary, in which a large number of absentee ballots were cast in favor of a certain faction of the Democratic party. In early 2012, as a result of the investigation, Lincoln County Sheriff Jerry Bowman and Lincoln County Clerk Donald Whitten pleaded guilty to felony charges. Bowman, Whitten, and Tennant were all elected Democratic officials.
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 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 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."
On January 7, 2016, the Secretary of State's office opened a second location in Fairmont.
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 said had been a hallmark of her tenure as Secretary of State.
Public polling conducted in January 2011 showed Tennant to be a front runner in the Democratic primary, alongside acting governor Earl Ray Tomblin. She lost the primary election to acting governor Earl Ray Tomblin, coming in third place behind state house speaker Rick Thompson.
U.S. Senate campaign
Tennant ran for the Senate in 2014. The seat was open after incumbent Democrat Jay Rockefeller announced his retirement. Tennant lost to Republican Representative Shelley Moore Capito in the general election, losing every county in the state. The 34.5 percent won by Tennant was the lowest ever by a Democratic nominee across the 38 U.S. Senate races in West Virginia history.
Tennant 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 was 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.
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.
|West Virginia Secretary of State Democratic Primary Election, 2004|
|West Virginia Secretary of State Democratic Primary Election, 2008|
|Democratic||Billy Wayne Bailey, Jr.||42,902||12.78|
|West Virginia Secretary of State Election, 2008|
|Republican||Charles Theophilus Minimah||230,283||34.49|
|West Virginia Governor Special Democratic Primary Election, 2011|
|Democratic||Earl Ray Tomblin||51,348||40.40|
|West Virginia Secretary of State Election, 2012|
|Democratic||Natalie Tennant (inc.)||398,463||62.40|
|West Virginia U.S. Senate Democratic Primary Election, 2014|
|West Virginia U.S. Senate Election, 2014|
|Republican||Shelley Moore Capito||281,820||62.12|
|Mountain||Bob Henry Baber||5,504||1.21|
|West Virginia Secretary of State Democratic Primary Election, 2016|
|Democratic||Natalie Tennant (inc.)||192,176||77.18|
- "Natalie Tennant". The West Virginia Encyclopedia. December 8, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- "West Virginia Secretary of State's office". sos.wv.gov. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
- "Obituaries: Rose Mary Brunetti Tennant". The Times West Virginian. June 4, 2011. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
- "Natalie Tennant for U.S. Senate (WV)". IADLC. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
- News, University Relations |. "Second woman to don the buckskins as WVU Mountaineer mascot". WVUToday. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- "WVU Mountaineers". WVU Alumni. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
- "The Year of the Mountaineer". www.morgantownmag.com. Archived from the original on 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- "25th Anniversary of the first female WVU Mountaineer: Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant". Huntington News. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- Holdren, Wendy (2013-03-17). "Secretary of state promotes women's role in W.Va". Register-Herald. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- "Statewide Results". General Election - November 4, 2008. West Virginia Secretary of State. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- Laskow, Sarah (November 6, 2008). "Democrats dominate secretary of state races in toss-up states". Center for Public Integrity.
- King, Joselyn (6-11-2013). "Tennant Undecided on Senate". News-Register. Retrieved 24 May 2014. Check date values in:
- "Internet Voting: Will Democracy or Hackers Win?". PBS. 2012-02-16. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- Brust, Pamela (May 23, 2012). "West Virginia to pay for ballot mistake". Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Miller, Dendra (May 24, 2012). "Secretary Of States Office To Pay More Than $200K For Ballot Blunder". The Glenville Democrat. Retrieved June 3, 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.
- Davis, Jim (May 4, 2014). "Pre-Election Blame Game". The Exponent Telegram. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Boucher, David (2014-04-29). "Tennant: Vendor to blame for website issues". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- Murray, Melissa. "West Virginia Secretary of State Opens Office in Fairmont". www.wboy.com. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- Fritz, Doug (January 20, 2011). "Tennant Announces Candidacy for Governor". WVNS-TV. Archived from the original on February 12, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- "Associated Press Reports on WV Gubernatorial Special Election". Retrieved 28 March 2011.[permanent dead link]
- "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". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- Ostermeier, Eric (November 10, 2014). "Rock Bottom: Democrats Hit Multiple Low Water Marks in US Senate Elections". Smart Politics.
- 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. Archived from the original on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- Gabriel, Trip (2013-12-28). "West Virginia Democrats Face an Uneasy Time". The 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. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. 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.
- West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant
- Natalie Tennant for U.S. Senate campaign site
- Natalie Tennant at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Interview with Natalie Tennant On WV PBS October, 2008
- Natalie Tennant and Gag Law case Real Clear Politics
| Secretary of State of West Virginia
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from West Virginia