The end of the Rockefeller political dynasty?

Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (DW.Va.) decision to retire in 2014 means the nation will likely be without Rockefeller in high office for the first time in four decades and only the second time since the 1950s.

The Rockefeller political dynasty is surely one of the largest in American history, comprising a vice president and several senators and governors representing much of the eastern half of the country. Several prominent politicians married into the family, which rose to influence in the late 1800s and early 1900s through patriarch, oil baron and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jay’s great-grandfather .

Jay (born John D. Rockefeller IV), 75, is the oldest member of the family and the only Democrat with the family name. He has served in the West Virginia State Legislature, serving as Secretary of State, Governor and Senator since 1985 – a career spanning a total of five decades.

During his career, Rockefeller chaired the Veterans Affairs, Intelligence, and Commerce Committees. He is known for his health care work, including supporting Hillary Clinton’s efforts in 1993 and co-authoring the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the late 1990s. More recently , he became famous for investigating the case of George W. Bush for having waged war in Iraq, becoming one of Bush’s main critics.

His uncle Nelson was Governor of New York and Vice President under Gerald Ford and is perhaps best known for being synonymous with liberal-to-moderate Republican politics. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination three times in the 1960s, often serving as a moderate counterpoint to Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater.

His uncle Winthrop was a heavily Democratic reformist Republican governor of Arkansas in the 1960s; and his cousin Win served as Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas for a decade under the government of the day. Mike Huckabee (R), according to the Political Graveyard. His great-grandfather, Nelson Aldrich, also served three terms as a Republican Senator from Rhode Island around the same time John D. Rockefeller was building his oil business.

Additionally, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and former Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.) both married into the family (they later divorced), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.) and former Sen. Charles Percy (R-Ill.) are also linked.

While Dayton and Whitehouse remain in office, Rockefeller’s retirement likely means there won’t be anyone with that name in high office in 2015.

The most politically active of the Rockefeller children is Justin Rockefeller, 33, but he lives in New York and has yet to run for office.

Asked about his political future in 2005, he said: “I doubt I’ll run for office. But my dad is still an inspiration. Nelson offered him a job as a senator in New York after RFK died. Instead, he moved to West Virginia and worked his way up to the Senate itself.”

Jay’s other three children have all spent time in academia in recent years, including Charles, Valerie (now Valerie Carnegie Wayne) and John V (Jamie), who is a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. None live in West Virginia.

No other Rockefeller appears to hold political office at the present time.

Similarly, the Kennedy family recently had a long political tenure streak (64 years!) shattered, when Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) died in 2009 and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (DR.I.) retired in 2011. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) ended the two-year drought when he was sworn in last week.

Updated 1/16: It has come to The Fix’s attention that Will Rockefeller, who is the son of Win Rockefeller and grandson of Winthrop Rockefeller and is in his twenties, works for Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) office and is seen by some GOP members as potentially the family’s return to political office one day.

When asked in a mid-2012 interview if he could run, Will Rockefeller offered this: “Maybe. everyone wants a 25-year-old to make decisions that affect the lives of individuals in the state. I know that I currently don’t have the experience, the maturity, or the desire to race right now. … I don’t know what the future holds.”