The National Republican Congressional Committee has awarded West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall's (D) challenger "contender" status despite him trailing by double digits in some polls. 

Former state Supreme Court Justice Spike Maynard (R) was elevated to the second stage of the committee's "Young Guns" candidate training program Tuesday. "Spike Maynard has met a series of rigorous fundraising and campaign goals that will go a long way in helping to put this seat in the Republican column," Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), chairman of the NRCC, said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Rahall has a solid lead over Maynard in a recent poll conducted for the conservative advocacy group American Action Forum. The July 28 - Aug. 1 survey of 400 general election voters found that 53 supported Rahall while 37 percent backed Maynard. The 17-term congressman also has almost 100 percent name recognition, compared to 72 percent for Maynard.

The congressman was ahead in an internal poll released by the Maynard camp in June. That survey, by the Charleston-based firm MBE, had 42 percent backing Rahall, 36 for Maynard and 16 percent undecided.