The leaders of the National Republican Congressional Committee couldn’t believe their luck.

The NRCC had already made up its mind to target long-time West Virginia Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall in the 2014 election. But then Rahall delivered up a softball, a vote that, while largely symbolic, played right into the hands of his opponents.

On March 30th, Rahall voted in favor of the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget plan.  Dubbed the “Back to Work Budget,” the proposal amounts to a traditional liberal wish list of higher taxes and more government spending.

But it was the coal-related provisions of the budget that caught the eye of the NRCC.

According to a release from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, its budget includes a carbon tax.   “The Back to Work Budget would impose on polluters a $25 per ton price on carbon dioxide (increasing at 5.6% a year), rebating 25% of all revenues as refundable tax credits to protect low income families.”

The document also called for a rollback of what it says are $112 billion in fossil fuel subsidies over ten years, while spending more money on renewable energy.

The coal industry, which is so vital in Rahall’s district, is already suffering.  A combination of greater competition from low-priced natural gas and increased regulatory pressure from the EPA has led to layoffs in the short-term and uncertainty for the future.

The liberal budget plan failed decisively 84-327, with more Democrats (102) voting against it than in favor of it.

Rahall’s vote in support of the Back to Work Budget is difficult to comprehend.  It was not a leadership vote where Rahall had to toe the line.  In fact, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi didn’t even vote for it.

“With his vote for the ultra-liberal ‘Progressive Budget,’ Nick Rahall has declared war on West Virginia’s coal industry and the hard-working West Virginians that depend on that industry to put food on their families’ tables,’” said NRCC spokesman Ian Prior. “Rahall needs to explain exactly why he decided to turn his back on West Virginia with this devastating and irresponsible vote.”

Rahall’s office stresses that he knew the non-binding budget would not pass, and that he wanted to make a statement against the budget of Republican Paul Ryan, which passed the House and which Rahall opposed.  The Ryan plan dramatically changes Medicare by turning it into a premium support system for anyone 55 and under.

“I voted to protect Medicare and the benefits seniors have earned and to move the budget toward balance in a reasonable way,” Rahall said in an email response to my questions.

The Congressman says he’s also aware that since he’s been targeted for 2014, the GOP is going to come after him no matter what he says or does.

“I know from years of experience that nearly any vote I cast can be fodder for attack—especially on big, wide-ranging package bills like the annual federal budget, the contents of which can be twisted and distorted in multiple says,” Rahall said.

Of course, for Rahall to truly be threatened, he needs a viable opponent.  So far no Republican is in the race, however the NRCC is pushing for first-term state Senator Bill Cole from Mercer County.  He told me on Metronews Talkline last week he’s seriously considering a run, but he has reservations.

“On the personal side, I still have two teenage daughters at home and I have to do what’s right for my family,” said the successful Bluefield car dealer.  “On the political side, I want to serve where I think I can have the most impact for West Virginia.”

If Cole decides not to run, Rick Snuffer may get in. He came within eight points of Rahall in 2012 (54-46) with little national help.

Republicans have been trying to write Nick Rahall’s political obituary for years and have come up short in 18 elections.  The odds still favor Rahall in his 19th, but his vote in favor of the Back to Work Budget gave an advantage to those who want to put him out of work.








bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • Shadow

    What was it Nancy said? Something about having to pass it to see what is in it. Another rational Democratic thought!

  • JoeJoe

    Well said.

    One question for Nick Hezbollah Joe Rahall that he has NEVER answered.
    Why was Rahall and Rep. Dennis Kucinich in Iraq begging for a meeting with Saddam Huessein just a couple of months before the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam.

    Hoppy, could you ask him the next time you have him on your show??

  • Wowbagger

    Nick Joe Rahall and Nick Casey in the end are good party men just like Joe Manchin and will vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi will then control these drones and will support all of Barack Obama's Progressive agenda including gun control, grossly unbalanced budgets, multi-trillion dollar deficits, amnesty, ceding control to the United Nations, one payer healthcare, and every other hare brained Progressive scheme for his last two years. They will protect Obama from scrutiny for Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and goodness knows what else!

    Vote for either of these party faithfuls and you will be directly contributing to the downfall of this great nation.

  • Jethro

    Yes keep putting the rightwing radical loser Rick Snuffer against Nicky Joe and see what happens.

  • thornton

    The brightness of their Future would be the difference between the three.
    The brightness of Rahall's opponent will determine the outcome in that race.

  • leroy jethro gibbs

    whats the difference between the coal industry natural gas industry and the oil industry? i dont think any of those industries are suffering right now. they may make only one billion dollars now instead of 2 but i dont think any of them are "suffering"

  • SpinZone

    Hoppy must be dizzy from all the spinning. There is a reason Rahall has been elected 18 straight terms, he always serves the best interest of his constituents. If people would actually follow his legislation (like his constituents do) instead of just dissecting it a month after the fact, think of a way to spin it to win brownie points with your boss, and then write it up so that folks can bash him while they drink tea at their tea party. Stay tuned, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity are next!

  • Jim

    Maybe, just maybe, Nicky Joe, oh, I inadventenly reached for the wrong stationary when penning a letter to a Federal judge asking for leniency in sentencing his son may have finally picked the wrong side of an issue. At that point, Nicky Joe should have been expelled from Congress or at the least, forced to stand in the "well of the House" and be publicly reprimanded. Did either happen? Not suprisingly, neither happened. Then, the voters in his district had the opportunity to oust him, but did that happen? Not suprisingly--NO! Maybe we are seeing the twlight of Nicky Joe's gravy train. And, with Rocky (smartly) choosing not to run for reelection and hopefully, WV voters will not come down with a 5 year case of amnesia and remember what "limelight MSNBC" Joe did when election time rolls around again.

  • takemetoemstar

    nothing is more dangerous in life or a job than complacency... it is quite possible the Rahall and his staff never even bother to read the whole document and thus got caught of just being lazy and stupid. that's just one theory. the other more obvious choice is that he thinks he can do and say whatever he wants (within reason) and nothing will happen. voters of that district pay attention and get rid of complacency and move this state forward.

  • mamasita

    Ooh. Makes me wonder if he is about to announce he plans to spend more time with his family.

  • SilenceisGolden

    "The coal industry, which is so vital in Rahall’s district, is already suffering. "

    It's governmental largesse that's what's vital. And Nicky Jo is a master at providing it, or at least creating the impression that whatever people here get, they get because of him.
    And this is why he'll hold that seat as long as he wants it, or until he dies.

    People in the third district are almost universally convinced that nothing can happen here, unless someone like Rahall provides the money for it. And maybe they're right; the only places in WV that look prosperous are the Eastern Panhandle and Morgantown, which both only seem to prosper because of taxpayer funding.

    Move Washington DC 50 miles further away, and the Eastern Panhandle is just another backwater. Move WVU out of Morgantown, and what would be left? McDowell County North!

  • CaptainQ

    Well Hoppy, one thing I've learned from living in this wonderful state nearly all of my life is this: NEVER underestimate the 'political aura' of Nick Jo Rahall. Nick was brilliant enough to win in his last campaign inspite of the fact that he is of the same political party as President Obama. Joe, Nicky Joe and 'Not Joe' were able to get reelected by running like a scaulded dog away from Obama in 2012. However, THIS time Nicky Jo may have slipped up badly by backing a bill with unmistakable anti-coal provisions in it. Thought Nicky Joe was smarter than this, but then again, I thought MoJo was smarter than pushing for a gun control bill in the Senate. Looks like I was wrong on both counts.

    Joe and Nicky Joe need to remember what state they are SUPPOSED to represent in Congress. WV Voters seem to be waking up to what their elected leaders have been doing in Washington and they're watching with very keen interest. Don't think Joe Manchin will be able to 'run and hide' from his gun control efforts and neither will Nick Jo Rahall be able to easily 'run away' from this vote. MoJo has 5 years to try to 'make voters forget' while Nicky Jo has only one. Since neither man possesses the Robert C Byrd Cloak of Political Invincibility, both will be vunerable in their reelection bids.

    But still, Mr Rahall COULD win again if the GOP fumbles this opportunity. They need to bring in a credible candidate with a near spotless record who won't go all 'Todd Akin' with his mouth in public. Rahall has more 'political lives' than a roomful of cats, but if he can get releected in 2014, it'll be a feat of political 'magic' that will rival Harry S Truman's win over Dewey in 1948.

  • mntnman

    Yawn. Wake me when this actually matters. Budget bill has no chance of passing and Rahall has no opponent just yet. When he has an opponent and a budget bill actually passes, let me know. Until then, this is all much ado about nothing.

  • DonaldB

    --According to a release from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, its budget includes a carbon tax. “The Back to Work Budget would impose on polluters a $25 per ton price on carbon dioxide (increasing at 5.6% a year), rebating 25% of all revenues as refundable tax credits to protect low income families.”--- Hoppy

    POLLUTERS!!! POLLUTERS! Hoppy, you think Coal Fired Power Plants are POLLUTERS?

  • Jim N Charleston

    Well I'm sure Rahall's vote to give his opponents ammo is appreciated. If they're like me it's hard to find at the local Wally World, so any is appreciated.

    Always remember Skippy your gun & ammo must always be there.

  • Jim G.

    Nick Rahall is only in congress because Ken Hechler had a brain fart in 1976 and gave up his congressional seat to run for Governor and lost to Jay in the primary. Hechler then mounted a write in campaign to win his congressional seat again and almost won. We have been treated to the mediocracy that is Nick Rahall ever since.