WASHINGTON, D.C. — A political writer for “The Washington Post” considers the race for the U.S. House in West Virginia’s Third Congressional District a toss-up, with two months to go until the May Primary Election and about eight months remaining before the November General Election.

Aaron Blake with “The Fix” said a Tarrance Group poll the National Republican Congressional Committee released earlier this week got his attention.

It showed Cabell County Senator Evan Jenkins, a Republican, lead longtime Congressman Nick Rahall, a Democrat, 54 percent to 40 percent.

“I kind of take these polls that are done by partisan pollsters for campaigns and assume that there’s, maybe, a few points more favorable to them, more favorable to the candidate that they’re surveying for,” said Blake on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

However, “This poll really reminded me of some polls that we saw in 2010 when a lot of these longtime incumbents, like Rahall, who had been surviving in these conservative districts started to see similar polling numbers,” he said.

Rahall was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976 and has been reelected every two years since then.  Last year, Jenkins changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and launched a Congressional campaign aimed at the incumbent.

Jenkins has had some help.  Blake said, since late 2013, conservative groups — including Americans for Prosperity which the Koch brothers fund — have spent $1.4 million on political ads in West Virginia and most of those ads have targeted Rahall.

Spending on Rahall’s behalf is nowhere close to that amount.  But, earlier this week, the House Majority PAC did release a second television ad defending Rahall.  In total, a representative of that group said $225,000, so far, had gone into answering the attacks on Rahall.

Blake said the Republicans want West Virginia’s Third District.

“It’s pretty clear that they’ve made this seat an important one for them in this election and a lot of that has to do with the fact that, once they get rid of Rahall, this is a Republican seat for the foreseeable future,” he said.

“There’s a premium on defeating him this year, more so than a lot of other candidates that they might have another chance to go after in future elections.”

West Virginia’s Third District is the second most conservative district, represented by a Democrat, in the entire U.S. House.

Last week, Rahall was added to “Frontline,” an incumbent protection program run through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

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  • George A. D Mann Jr

    All political offices should have limited terms. no more than two years per term and no more than two term consecutively for the house, congress and office of presidency to eliminate corruption and greed that comes with extended terms of office.

  • CaptainQ

    Somehow, Rahall was able to 'run away' from the Shadow of Obama in 2012 long enough to get reelected. Can he do it again? Nicky Jo along with Manchin and Tomblin played hooky from the Democratic National Convention in 2012 just to avoid being on the record supporting Obama's reelection bid! Joe Manchin literally played 'word gymnastics' each time he was asked who he supported for President that year!

    This time around, there's really no place for Nick Jo Rahall to 'hide' from his connections to Obama. If he can win THIS election in 2014, the man is by far the luckiest politician on the face of the planet!

  • jay zoom

    We need to get rid of the old goat as well as a couple hundred others of the do nothing congress. as long as this nation continues to re-elect these same clowns election after election then cry all day about the way Washington handles the government then they get what they deserve. lets wake up WEST VIRGINIA and the nation give us some new blood in Washington it can't be worse than what we already have.

  • Jim G.

    The only reason Rahall is a Congressman is because Ken Hechler had a brain fart and decided to run against Jay in the 1976 Democrat primary for governor and gave up his safe seat. If I remember correctly Hechler ran a write in campaign the general election for his old seat and almost beat Rahall. WV has been stuck with Nicky Joe ever since.

  • DP

    Does anyone know if Nicky Joe ever paid back the money he owed to the Las Vegas Casino(s) from years ago? I'm sure he was on a VERY important fact finding mission (sarcasm intended) at taxpayers expense when he incurred this debt.

    Voters in the 3rd District, you deserve better than this Obama Hack!!!

  • Whip

    Coal is being killed by a process called capitalism and cheaper feedstock. This is the same process that moved 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Kanawha Valley to Gulf Coast states. You can vote Rush Limbaugh in....it ain't stopping the decline. Lived it, lost my job and moved on.

    • Realist

      The 68 power plants referenced in this article were closed by new EPA regulations, not capitalism. http://www.governing.com/gov-data/energy-environment/coal-plants-to-shut-down-from-EPA-regulations.html.

      Other EPA regulations prevent any new coal fired power plant from being built, not capitalism.

      • Whip

        You are misinformed the plants are being shutdown because coal is not the feedstock of choice. The EPA was the ticket to shut the doors. Most these plants were obsolete and ready for closure. If you have worked in the power generation industry and burned coal you understand the high maintenance cost to maintain equipment. Natural gas has a fraction of the maintenance cost. Stay in denial, the use of coal to generate energy is over. If you do not believe me call the CEO's of Peabody or Consolidated. Coal from West Virginia is part of their future plans.

        • Realist

          First of all, I am not misinformed. IF what you are saying is true, then the new EPA regulations were not necessary either for closing the existing plants or for building new plants. Capitalism requires a free market, while the EPA prevents a free market decision from being made.

          • Whip

            I'm sorry, I did not mean to be so blunt, but you go by Realist. It's not about producing electricity from coal but makiing money. The boys over in Columbus with AEP do not care about what they burn to make steam. You could burn corn cobs if the conversion factors worked. Coal can not beat the price point on natural gas. The EPA regulations are the get out jail card a lot of companies have been looking for in power production, to move from coal. No one is going to build a coal fired plant if natural gas is cheaper. The EPA is hard on every industry, not just the folks who burn coal. But in West Virginia it's just another example of playing the victim, which we do expectionly well. Blame the EPA because the economy was never diversified.

  • grey4449

    Rahall has voted to lower carbon emissions. Everyone needs to tell your friends and neighbors about Rahall killing coal.

  • Pickle Barrel

    Rahall has spent 38 years in Congress and has nothing to show for it other than a bunch of junkets and some photo-ops with Yassir Arafat and Saddam Hussein. How pathetic.

  • Independent View

    This is WONDERFUL news! Keep the pressure on and the poll numbers ever climbing!

  • Rich

    Regardless of my feelings on this race, I put little stock in a poll sponsored by Republicans. I would just as little stock in a poll by Democrats. Let's see a neutral poll by Gallup or similar.

    • Aaron

      How's this for a poll. In Florida's 13 District special election to replace Rep. Bill Young, a little known Republican who was out-spent by his more widely known Democratic counterpart won by tying Alex Sink to the President and his signature legislation.

      Given that Sink in no way defended the ACA or had nothing to do in implementing it and still lost, I'm curious as to how a liberal Democrat who openly supported and voted for the bill in a conservative state fares.

      My gut says not so well. A recent NBC poll that found that voters are 20% less likely to support candidates who support Obamacare agrees.

  • fed up

    Rahall " I know my voters don't like the health care law, but I know what is best for them" right before the ACA was passed and he voted in step with the President...You were elected to represent the people of your district and clearly you do not have our interests at heart. This issue alone should not get you re-elected, never mind all the other stuff....

  • Voter

    Rahall is the reason they should have term limits.

  • Jim Donnan

    The Obama-lover Nick Rahall will be retired back to Beckley soon enough. Traitor.