WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — State Senator Evan Jenkins found himself with an open stage Thursday before the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Business Summit at the Greenbrier Resort. The Republican candidate for the Third District Congressional seat took full advantage of the opportunity.
“You’re going to have every candidate, Democrat-Republican, up on this stage today, later today, and tomorrow saying they are pro-coal,” Jenkins told the gathered Chamber members. “But I’m running against someone who has a voting record and he’s not willing to come up here and defend his record.”
Longtime incumbent Democrat Representative Nick Rahall declined the Chamber’s invitation to be part of a candidate form on stage with Jenkins.
“I’m telling you as I campaigned through West Virginia, 18 counties, it is unbelievable the devastation and 38 years of the same representation,” Jenkins said. “Does anybody think year 39 and 40 is going to be anything different.”
Jenkins accused Rahall of being a loyal foot soldier for the Democrat leadership in Washington and refusing to acknowledge the people he represented back in West Virginia.
“Washington is broken,” said Jenkins. “The politics that are being driven out of Washington are wrong for this country and they’re devastating West Virginia.”
Jenkins touted his own record in the state legislature. He noted his election to the House of Delegates when the state’s workers’ compensation system was in dire need of reform. He claimed his election to the Senate came amid a drastic need for medical malpractice insurance reform. Jenkins said he helped lead efforts to make both of those changes in state government. He said his election now to Congress will be no different.
“You would not believe all the support from some of the most anti-coal advocates in this country who are writing the big checks to fund his campaign,” said Jenkins. “Why? So they can get a faithful servant of Nancy Pelosi back in Congress.”
Jenkins, who represents Cabell and Wayne counties in the state Senate, was elected to the post as a Democrat but changed his registration to run for Congress.
Rahall was at a meeting of the Coalfields Expressway Authority in Mullens Thursday. He was praising a recent announcement of a funding plan for a 3.3-mile section of the highway.