Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Top GOP Recruit Won’t Challenge Rahall #WV03

Rahall is a top GOP target in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican state Sen. Bill Cole announced on a local radio show this week that he will not run against Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va., in the 3rd District.

“While I believe that now is the time for a new kind of leader to represent the 3rd District of West Virginia, I believe that I have an obligation to continue to serve those who put their trust in me by electing me to the state Senate,” Cole said later in a news release. “It is for that reason alone that I have decided not to run for a national office at this time.”

Cole’s decision is a blow for Republicans, who had been recruiting Cole since April. Rahall tops the National Republican Congressional Committee’s target list in 2014.

The 19-term Democrat has evaded Republican attempts to oust him over the past few cycles. He was able to beat his Republican opponent, Rick Snuffer, by 8 points last year, when Mitt Romney carried the district with 65 percent.

NRCC spokesman Ian Prior said that despite Cole’s decision not to run, Republicans are still confident they can oust Rahall this cycle. The GOP has criticized Rahall on his vote against the Keystone XL pipeline and a vote for a carbon tax that Republicans argue irked the state’s prominent coal industry.

“Nick Rahall has been in congress 36 years, and what we’ve seen is that he’s become completely out of step with his district, which has voted for Bush, McCain and Romney over the past three cycles,” Prior said.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates this a Lean Democrat race.

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