CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. House seat Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) has held since 1977 is now considered one of the most “vulnerable” in the country during the November general election.
“In the past, Rahall boasted one of the best local brands in politics, effectively keeping enough distance between himself and a national party that’s increasingly unpopular in West Virginia,” according to a Tuesday article in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.
But Shira Center, who contributed to that Roll Call report, said times are changing and so is the political climate in West Virginia, especially in Rahall’s 3rd District. “So many of the blue dog Democrats that represented the South for years and years and years, they’re all gone now. There are very few left, in any, in the southern states,” she said.
In the report, Roll Call said the following: “Every name on this list has a 50 percent chance, or more, of not returning to Congress next year. To compose this regular feature, Roll Call’s Politics Team examines every aspect of a member’s re-election prospects: district composition, campaign operation, fundraising, quality of opponent and recent performance.”
Last November, Rahall was not on the list. But, Center said, the race between Rahall and Sen. Evan Jenkins (R-Cabell, 5), both the likely nominees, is now considered a tossup. “It’s so clear to us that he (Rahall) is, without a doubt, one of the most vulnerable members up for reelection in 2014,” she said.
In 2012, during his last reelection campaign, Rahall won by 12 points, even though Mitt Romney beat President Barack Obama, who was at the top of the Democratic ticket, by 32 points in the 3rd District.
This time, Roll Call notes Rahall is putting up a “fierce” fight against Jenkins who is getting financial support from national Republican organizations. “If Rahall loses in the 3rd District, it will say more about the political climate in West Virginia than about his political acumen,” said the Roll Call report.
“‘The Rahall brand’ in itself, as long as there isn’t a ‘D’ next to it, is still very strong, very powerful in the District. So, if he can really rely on that, then that is how he wins,” Center said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
In addition to Rahall, the other U.S. House members Roll Call considers “vulnerable” are Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Michael Honda (D-Calif.), Ralph Hall (R-Tx.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).