House races

Rep. Nick Rahall: Will my opponent stay a Republican?

Scott Wong

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Vulnerable Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall ripped into his GOP opponent at a rally here Tuesday, questioning whether state Sen. Evan Jenkins would stick with the Republican Party if he was elected or rejoin the Democratic Party. 

{mosads}Jenkins had served many years in the state legislature as a Democrat before embracing the GOP last year to run against Rahall. The 19-term congressman, one of Republicans’ top targets of the 2014 cycle, has noted on the campaign trail and during debates that Jenkins even donated $500 to the Keep Nick Rahall in Congress Committee in October 2010.

“This election really comes down to who you can trust, who you can trust. My opponent — yes he’s been friends to many of us in this room, myself included in the past — but really, back and forth?” Rahall told about 50 supporters at a get-out-the-vote rally at the Cabell County Democratic Party headquarters. 

“I’m not even sure Republicans can trust him, my friends,” he added. “I don’t even know what party he’ll belong to next year.”

Both Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and the Democrat who wants to serve with him in the Senate, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D), were also on hand.

In an interview, Manchin called Jenkins a “good guy,” pointing out that the Democrat-turned-Republican had once hosted a fundraiser for him at his house. But the senator said Rahall had a proven record and would better represent the Mountain State.  

Jenkins countered during a recent debate that Rahall had also contributed $2,000 to Jenkins’s reelection campaign back in 2009, a donation Jenkins has since called “illegal” because it was over the $1,000 state limit. 

And Jenkins spokesman Andrew Sere wrote in a follow-up email that his boss has always been a conservative, regardless of party affiliation.

“In a historically Democratic state, there’s a different two-party system: pro-life, pro-gun, pro-coal conservative Democrats and Republicans, versus liberal Democrats who support Obama,” Sere said.

“Evan Jenkins has always been a member of the first party, while Rahall’s switched sides dozens if not hundreds of times, at one moment campaigning for Obama in the 2008 Democrat primary and vouching for his position on coal, now pretending like he’s never met the guy.”

Tags Evan Jenkins Joe Manchin Nick Rahall Nick Rahall West Virginia West Virginia-3

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