Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

Democrat Switches Parties to Challenge Rahall (Updated) #WV03

Updated 11:29 a.m. | West Virginia state Sen. Evan Jenkins will announce Wednesday morning that he changed his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican to challenge Rep. Nick J. Rahall II next year, according to national GOP operatives.

Republicans have indicated they want to target the 3rd District with a top candidate in 2014. But Jenkins might not be the only Republican in the race. The GOP’s 2012 nominee, former Del. Rick Snuffer, issued a statement on Jenkins’ move that indicated he might run again.

“Our campaign team fully understands the National Republican Congressional Committee’s enthusiasm for Evan’s party switch and their expressed desire for a candidate who could self-fund his race,” he wrote. “This is Evan’s day, as it should be.”

Snuffer indicated Jenkins’ candidacy would not preclude him from another bid.

“Our team is confident should we enter the race next year, we will be more than competitive,” he added.

House Republicans are stepping up their efforts to oust Rahall in 2014. Earlier this year, the NRCC made a small television buy against Rahall. It tried to recruit Republican state Sen. Bill Cole, who opted against a run in June.

Jenkins was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1994 and served three terms. In 2002, he won a state Senate seat and is now in his third term.

This race is rated Democrat Favored by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Update 11:29 a.m.

Jenkins made his official announcement Wednesday morning in Huntington, W.Va.

“West Virginia is under attack from Barack Obama and a Democratic Party that our parents and grandparents would not recognize,” Jenkins said in a news release. “I am proud to join the Republican Party in fighting Washington’s assault on our state, our freedoms, and our jobs.”

Republican party leaders rushed to welcome Jenkins to the party. Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California each tweeted words of praise for Jenkins’ decision.

But national Democrats were quick to pounce on Jenkins. One source noted that Jenkins gave money to Rahall’s campaign in October 2010. Federal Election Commission records confirm his donation of $500.

  • blair152

    Good. Reagan said: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me.”

  • ibelieveinfreedom2

    Proof that the republican party is democrat-lite. We need a conservative/Constitutionalist party. We have enough of the likes of John Boehner, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and the wishy-washy, useless republicans. Having more like that won’t do diddly. Besides, you can never trust a democrat, they put their agenda before everything else. This could just be a way of infiltrating the republican party. Find his voting record and see how he scores before celebrating.

  • ibelieveinfreedom2

    According to the records I’ve found, he has a 0% rating from the WV Conservatives on taxpayer issues…. He does seem to do well with pro-life issues voting to require an ultrasound before an abortion and parental notification for minors…. liberal votes on food calorie count labels and homosexual issues.

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