CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The race in the 3rd Congressional District for the Nov. 4 general election started long before Tuesday’s primary election, which brought the official nominations of longtime Congressman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Evan Jenkins (R-Cabell, 5).

On Tuesday evening, MetroNews was projecting both would be the nominees for their respective parties this fall.

The two candidates and their supporters, though, have been looking forward to the general election for months now, even though Rahall faced a challenge from Richard Ojeda of Logan, a retiree from the U.S. Army, in the Democratic primary.

Rahall, who turns 65 on May 20, has represented the 3rd District since first being elected in 1976.  “I am honored to receive this nomination, the lines in this campaign are now clearly drawn.  It’s West Virginia working families against out-of-state billionaires and their puppet, Evan Jenkins,” Rahall said on Tuesday night after he was renominated.

“I’m going to represent West Virginia values and continue to put my record of 38 years of service to the people, representing West Virginia values for the people to once again make up their minds,” he said.

Currently the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Transportation Committee, he supported President Barack Obama in 2008 and voted for the Affordable Care Act.

Jenkins is expected to continue to make both facts issues in the Congressional campaign in the months leading up to the general election.  “Nick Rahall has voted for cap and trade.  He’s voted for a carbon tax on coal.  He voted to give the EPA almost $3 billion in increased funding in 2009 and the chickens are coming home to roost with their attacks on permits and rules and regs,” he said.

Jenkins, 53, is an attorney from Huntington.  “We’ve been working hard and so tonight’s just another step in the process,” Jenkins told MetroNews of his nomination on Tuesday night.

He was elected to multiple terms in the state House of Delegates, as a Democrat, before being elected to the state Senate, also as a Democrat, in 2002.  Last July, Jenkins switched political parties and launched his Congressional campaign against Rahall — saying he could no longer support President Obama’s Democratic party.

“My priorities have not changed, my party has changed,” Jenkins said at that time.  “I think where I can be most helpful, most useful, is to be a member of the Republican Party and make sure we have a Republican vote, going to Washington, standing up for southern West Virginia.”

Roll Call, a Capitol Hill magazine, has included Rahall’s seat on its list of the “most vulnerable” ahead of the general election.

Proof of that vulnerability is found in the money third party groups have already started spending on ads supporting or opposing both Rahall and Jenkins in the 3rd District.  That spending is expected to eclipse what the candidates themselves will spend.  Reports showed Rahall had raised $1.3 million in contributions, while Jenkins had raised $612,000, thus far, and had $439,000 remaining.

Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-Missouri), a former Republican National Committee co-chair, will attend a fundraising event for Jenkins on Thursday in Charleston at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

The 3rd Congressional District includes 18 counties in southern West Virginia — Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Greenbrier, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne, Webster and Wyoming.

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  • Dusty Evans

    Hey Hey - Ho Ho - stinking liberal democrats have got to GO!!! I am going to support Evan Jenkins. If you care about our state - you will to.

  • Tim C

    I'll be supporting Jenkins.....but never forget, he is not a true republican......he is, in fact, Rahall Lite! So I don't know what the dems are so worked up about???

  • wvman75

    I'll be voting for Mr. Jenkins come November. Rahall needs to go. He supported Obama and the national Democrat agenda against the interest of West Virginia and it's citizens. Time to go...

  • jerry

    Yep enjoy future unemployment lines coal miners keep voting democrat cause my great grand daddy did need to pull your heads out your back pockets and read more than what your told

  • P B and J

    After reading this article, I'm sure the UMWA will still lean left again this year.

    Amazes me so.

    • moose

      Are you in there? I mean really? why would the UMWA support the Republicans. You must have missed most of your history classes lol
      The Republicans... taking pensions away, taking health care away, while giving big corporations all the loot. Get a clue

      • Cooter

        Pensions, benefits, health care. All nice stuff...IF YOU HAVE A JOB. Complain all you like about Republicans, but if hardcore Democrats have their way, there will be no more coal jobs. That means fighting for benefits won't mean a thing, there won't be coal mining jobs.

      • Mitch

        @ moose,

        Because Barack Obama has PUBLICLY stated that he intends to get rid of coal. Were you off of the planet when he said that?

      • P B and J

        BTW......Hoffa did endorse Nixon, but as a student of history I guess you knew that.

      • P B and J

        With the democrats in office these men won't have a job for the republicans to take their pensions (doesn't surprise me that you actually believe that)

        Historically, there was a need for unions, no doubting that (circa 1890-1950) but with the creation of MSHA, Dept of Labor, and dozens of other health and safety agencies both federal and state a union is nothing more than a money consuming sub Democratic Party.

        Blame the republicans all you want, but the democrats were/are in control when Patriot Coal (union jobs) went bankrupt. We're the republicans to blame for those pensions?

        The problem rests with the union themselves pricing themselves out of a future with demands no company can keep up with.

        Maybe you missed the point of my post, so I'll rephrase it. Every topic that can shut a mine down, the UMWA voted for the guy that supported those issues.

        You may vote the way your daddy did,but I won't make my fathers mistakes ( 20+ Union/patriot coal ).

        My "clue" is if coal miners want to vote for a guy who is voting against their jobs, then they deserve to wait in the unemployment line.