Rahall challenger touts work on healthcare

West Virginia state Sen. Evan Jenkins, Rep. Nick Rahall’s (D-W.Va.) Republican challenger, is launching a new ad that touts his work securing healthcare for a constituent’s child.

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The ad, shared first with The Hill, started running on Saturday and features Earlene Anglin of Culloden, W.Va. telling the story of how Jenkins helped secure her son treatment that had been denied him because he was diagnosed with autism.

“We found out that the insurance companies refused this treatment that we knew could help him. It was such a lonely, devastating feeling,” Anglin says, adding that she took the issue to Jenkins.

He then appears in the ad, declaring, “She told me their story, and you know, no child should be denied healthcare just because of a disability.”

Anglin closes by saying of Jenkins, “He cared so much about my son, it meant the world to me.”

The ad is running on Beckley-Bluefield DMA broadcast and cable and Charleston DMA cable, according to a campaign aide. It was produced by Andy Sere at DMM Media, a top strategist on Jenkins’s campaign.

And it hints at the dilemma facing Republicans, as they grapple with an improving narrative surrounding ObamaCare. 

Rahall has been the subject of hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads focused on ObamaCare.

But while the law itself remains largely unpopular, certain planks of the law — like the provision barring insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions — are favored by Americans.

Democrats’ strategy in responding to GOP attacks on the law has been to point to those favored aspects and argue that Republicans want to return the country to the broken healthcare system that existed before reform. 

Jenkins’s ad is an example of a Republican pushing back on that narrative, touting his own efforts to tackle issues with the healthcare system. But Democrats are likely to note that Jenkins backs repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which would eliminate protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Rahall is one of Democrats' most vulnerable incumbents, facing a tough fight with Jenkins due largely to the unpopularity of Obama and many of his policies in West Virginia.

—This piece was updated at 2 p.m.