CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The chairman of the state Republican Party says there is plenty of time to find a candidate to challenge longtime 3rd District Congressman Nick Rahall next year.
Conrad Lucas said officials with the National Republican Congressional Committee have identified Rahall (D-West Virginia) as one of six potentially vulnerable Democrat U.S. House members in 2014. They’re pledging national support to his challenger.
The problem is, Republicans have not yet found a candidate.
Last week, Mercer County state Senator Bill Cole, who had been heavily recruited by the NRCC, announced his plans to stay in the state senate. “I’d follow Bill Cole into war, if he asked me to, so I look forward to the things he’s going to do for West Virginia,” said Lucas of Cole’s decision.
He said the national funding — what he calls “ample” money — that would have been put into support for Cole will still be there for any Republican who opts to launch a U.S. House campaign.
“There is no indication that’s going to change,” said Lucas. “Nick Rahall will, of course, face formidable competition next fall and every bit of national and state resources that can be mustered.”
Most recently, Rahall beat Republican challengers Marty Gearhart in 2008, Spike Maynard in 2010 and Rick Snuffer in 2012.
In addition to those past candidates, Lucas said there may be other Democrats who want to change parties to take on Rahall.
“We know that a lot of Democrats, particularly in Southern West Virginia, are unhappy with their party’s leadership and their party’s stances, and so a Democrat switching to Republican wouldn’t be a shock,” he said.
Lucas ran for Congress in the 3rd District, but he said he has no plans to seek the U.S. House seat in 2014. That could change, he said, if no viable Republican candidate surfaces before the filing deadline.
Rahall was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1977 and has been re-elected every two years since then.