WHEELING - U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito - just back from a congressional trip to Afghanistan - is considering whether her next venture is a possible move to the U.S. Senate.
Capito, R-W.Va., is being drafted by Republicans as a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the June 28 death of U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
But as Democrats and some conservatives push Gov. Joe Manchin toward the Senate seat, Capito said she might consider a run for a vacated governor's office. Or she just might stay in the House, where Republicans have a chance to retake the majority of seats this election year.
U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., right, speaks with an American soldier at an Afghan-International Security Assistance Force checkpoint in Kandahar.
"It's always a good thing to have options,"she said Monday. "I'm going to look at the options and figure out the best place I can serve. But I am on the ballot in the congressional race in November, and I feel I've already made that commitment. I'm going to look at what the Legislature decides this week, and I'm going to make a decision quickly."
Manchin has called a special session of the West Virginia Legislature to start Thursday. Members are expected to address sections of the state code pertaining to elections and succession.
"I love serving in the House," Capito said. "I think it's important I maintain that solid voice for the state - I'm the only Republican there from West Virginia. But serving in the Senate is a terrific thing.
"My friends in Congress understand it is a little different when you have five different members from your state," she added. "Folks in the House that truly care about me want me to make the best decision not just for the party, but for the state of West Virginia."
Capito said she learned a lot during her trip to Afghanistan.
The delegation left Andrews Air Force base July 5 and landed in Afghanistan on Wednesday after making a short stop at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany to visit wounded troops. The group visited Kabul and Kandahar before departing the war zone late Thursday.
During the visit, Capito attended command briefings by top military officials. The five-member congressional delegation was the first to meet with Gen. David Petraeus since he took over command of the International Security Force in Afghanistan.
Also during the trip, the House members met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and with Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.
"We've made a large commitment there in our military and with our tax dollars," Capito said. "The troops are surging. But we've been there nine years, and the will of the people is beginning to wane. I thought it was time to go and make assessments for myself."
She acknowledged the U.S. effort in Afghanistan "is going to be difficult."
"But Gen. Petraeus is the ultimate leader, who also has experience with the political and economic climates in Afghanistan," Capito said. "He is forging a plan to get results quickly. We all want to draw down our forces, so they can take control of their own economy and government.
"My one regret is that we didn't do this three or four years ago," she continued. "But we couldn't. We just didn't have the manpower."