Secretary of State Natalie Tennant was born on December 25, 1967, in Fairmont and grew up in nearby Fairview as the youngest of seven children. She attended West Virginia University where she was selected as the first female Mountaineer in 1990. She received her bachelor’s degree from WVU in 1991 and master’s degree in 2000.
Tennant became well-known throughout the state during the 20 years she worked in television broadcasting in Clarksburg and Charleston. After leaving journalism, she was co-owner of Wells Media Group with her husband, Erik Wells. Wells, also a former journalist, now serves in the West Virginia Senate. Tennant and Wells, who live in Charleston, have one daughter.
In 2004, Tennant ran for secretary of state but lost in the Democratic primary to Ken Hechler. In 2008, Secretary of State Betty Ireland chose not to seek reelection, and Tennant entered the race. She defeated two legislators, Joe DeLong and Billy Wayne Bailey, in the primary and GOP contender Charles Minimah in the general election.
As secretary of state, Tennant has focused on the use of technology. She promoted a program that allows members of the military and other state residents who are overseas to cast their votes online.
Following the death of Senator Robert Byrd in 2010, Tennant found herself at the center of debates about special elections. Ultimately, Governor Joe Manchin was elected to fill the Senate post. Tennant ran for governor in 2011, but lost in the Democratic primary to Earl Ray Tomblin, who went on to win in the general election. She was reelected as secretary of state on November 6, 2012.
In 2014, Tennant sought the seat held by retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller, but she was defeated by Republican Shelley Moore Capito. In 2016, she lost her race for reelection to Republican Mac Warner.
Last Revised on November 21, 2016
Cite This Article
e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Natalie Tennant." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 November 2016. Web. 25 April 2017.