HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Huntington High School seniors welcomed the three candidates vying for West Virginia’s 3rd District congressional seat during a question-and-answer forum Wednesday.
Incumbent U.S. Rep Nick Rahall and his challenger in next month’s Democratic primary, political newcomer Richard Ojeda, joined Democrat-turned-Republican state Senator Evan Jenkins in trading jabs and giving positions on the issues.
The League of Women Voters helped sponsor the event, which organizers stressed was not a debate. In fact, the rules of the forum allowed the candidates only to answer questions from students and not respond to each other. That was quickly tested.
Jenkins took the first swipe at Rahall when answering a question on global warming.
“Just last year our congressman voted for a carbon tax. He voted for the progressive budget that had a carbon tax all driven by this idea of our carbon footprint,” said Jenkins.
Ojeda quickly followed suit.
“Somebody needs to start addressing these issues and start taking care of these people,” Ojeda, of Logan County, said. “Somebody desperately needs to start standing up for the people of West Virginia.”
Rahall got in his first shot.
“You know Martha, I knew I was going to be ganged up on during this question and answer period. I hate to see the rules violated this early on as they already have been by both of my opponents,” said the congressman.
From coal to the federal budget to gun control the students fired off questions at the candidates, who had two minutes to respond to each.
Ojeda was answering a question about water quality and slammed Rahall in the process.
“Has anyone here heard of the town of Bud in Wyoming County? They went literally almost 7 months without water. The town of Bud in Wyoming County is literally neighbored up to Raleigh County, which is the home county of somebody sitting at this desk,” stressed Ojeda
Rahall minced no words in calling out Jenkins on a question involving the water crisis.
“Interesting Mr. Jenkins just said we should take it all into consideration, yet he blasted us for having hearings [in Congress] on the chemical spill,” said Rahall.
During a question about the state’s coal industry,Jenkins attacked Rahall’s record.
“While some talk about being a friend of the coal industry, they are up there in Washington voting for a carbon tax that would kill it,” claimed Jenkins.
The seniors Civics class and the Advanced Placement Government class at Huntington High have held a number of candidate forums in recent years.