West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District elections, 2014

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West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District

General Election Date
November 4, 2014

Primary Date
May 13, 2014

Incumbent prior to election:
Nick Rahall Democratic Party
Nick Rahall.jpg

West Virginia U.S. House Elections
District 1District 2District 3

2014 U.S. Senate Elections

Flag of West Virginia.png
The 3rd Congressional District of West Virginia will hold an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 4, 2014. Evan Jenkins, a former Democrat, switched parties in July 2013 to challenge 19-term incumbent Nick Rahall (D), setting up one of the most contentious races of 2014.[1] Funded by more than $3.3 million from outside groups, Republicans have tied Rahall to the "War on Coal" and Obama, who is so unpopular in West Virginia that a Texas inmate almost defeated him in the 2012 primary, and Democrats have labeled Jenkins as a party-switching, opportunist tied to "New York billionaires," namely the Koch brothers.[2][3] The Jenkins and Rahall campaigns and the PACs supporting them were able to begin attacking each other early because Jenkins did not face a primary challenger and Rahall easily defeated retired U.S. Army Major, Richard Ojeda in the Democratic primary.[4]

West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District is one of Ballotpedia's U.S. House battleground districts in 2014 because of Rahall's vulnerability as a Democrat serving in a Republican district. Fairvote projections show the district as only slightly favoring Democrats, while Cook PVI shows the district as heavily favoring Republicans. In addition, the Republican presidential candidate won the district in 2012 and 2008. Romney secured 32.2% more votes than Obama in 2012, and McCain won the district by 13.4% in 2008. The race is rated a "Tossup" contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.[5]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
January 25, 2014
May 13, 2014
November 4, 2014

Primary: West Virginia is one of 21 states with a mixed primary system. Parties decide who may vote. Both parties allow unaffiliated voters to vote in their primaries.[6]

Voter registration: To vote in the primary, voters had to register by April 22, 2014. For the general election, the voter registration deadline is October 14, 2014.[7]

See also: West Virginia elections, 2014

Incumbent: Heading into the election the incumbent is Nick Rahall (D), who was first elected in 1976.

West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District is located in the southern portion of the state and includes Pocahontas, Webster, Nicholas, Fayette, Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, Raleigh, Mercer, McDowell, Wyoming, Mingo, Logan, Boone, Lincoln, Wayne, Cabell and Mason counties.[8]


General election candidates

May 13, 2014, primary results

Democratic Party Democratic Primary

Republican Party Republican Primary

Election Results

Democratic primary results

Rahall, who is seeking his 20th term, had this to say after winning the Democratic primary: “I am honored to receive this nomination, the lines in this campaign are now clearly drawn: it's West Virginia working families against out-of-state billionaires and their puppet, Evan Jenkins. Billionaires from New York City will do everything they can to try and tear us down, because they know that no one stands stronger in Washington against their reckless agenda that threatens our workers, our seniors, our coal miners and our economy. But I have news for them -- the voices of West Virginia working families are infinitely stronger than their shadowy money, and we welcome this fight to protect our West Virginia way of life.”[13]

U.S. House, West Virginia District 3 Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngNick Rahall 66.4% 36,844
Richard Ojeda 33.6% 18,610
Total Votes 55,454
Source: Results via Associated Press

Race background

NRCC early target

Incumbent Nick Rahall (D) is one of seven early targets listed by the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2014 congressional elections.[14] The seven targets align perfectly with the seven most Republican districts currently held by Democrats, according to FairVote's partisanship index. Rahall's district ranks as the third most Republican (40% D).[15]

DCCC "Frontline Program"

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) added Rahall to its Frontline Program in March 2014.[16] The Frontline Program is a partnership between the DCCC and members of congress designed to protect vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Members of the program are required to sign a memorandum that requires them to meet aggressive fundraising goals, accelerate volunteer and recruitment efforts and increase their online networking.[17]

NRCC "On the Radar"

The National Republican Congressional Committee added Evan Jenkins to their "On the Radar" list in November 2013. According to the NRCC, candidates that make this list receive "...the tools they need to run successful, winning campaigns against their Democratic opponents."[18][19]

Rahall retirement rumors

On April 6, 2014, on CNN's Inside Politics, host John King said that Rahall was "about to retire a couple of weeks ago. And the leadership convinced him not to do that." In an interview with LoganBanner.com, Rahall called King's comments "completely false". He added, “I gave absolutely no consideration to withdrawing from this race. The Democrat Party has always intended to support me and they and the voters will do just that. I would not give up this seat, which belongs to the people, without a fight.”[20]



On March 12, 2014, Nick Rahall said he supported former President George W. Bush more than he has supported President Obama.[21] When asked if Obama has been good for West Virginia overall, Rahall replied, “Probably not. I will support him when he’s good for West Virginia, and I will oppose him when he’s bad for West Virginia...I probably have supported George Bush more than I have Barack Obama. Am I going to switch parties because of that? No. I’m a Democrat, born a Democrat, am a Democrat and will die a Democrat."[21]

“There’s no question my critics try to blame Obama-Rahall for everything. I mean, the snow blitz that’s coming tonight is probably Obama-Rahall’s fault. And they won’t have that to do two years from now, so it’s obvious they’re leaving no stone unturned to defeat me this time. Because it’s the last time they’ll have Obama around! It’s that simple,” Rahall said.[21]

Key votes

Below are important votes that Rahall cast during the 113th Congress.

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Voted "No" On September 30, 2013, the House passed a final stopgap spending bill before the shutdown went into effect. The bill included a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate and would have also stripped the bill of federal subsidies for congressional members and staff. It passed through the House with a vote of 228-201.[22] At 1 a.m. on October 1, 2013, one hour after the shutdown officially began, the House voted to move forward with going to a conference. In short order, Sen. Harry Reid rejected the call to conference.[23] Rahall voted against the stopgap spending bill that would have delayed the individual mandate.[24]

Voted "Yes" The shutdown finally ended on October 16, 2013, when the House took a vote on HR 2775 after it was approved by the Senate. The bill to reopen the government lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[25] The House passed the legislation shortly after the Senate, by a vote of 285-144, with all 144 votes against the legislation coming from Republican members. Rahall voted for HR 2775.[26]


Potential general election match-up
Poll Nick Rahall (D) Evan Jenkins (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
DMF Research
April 22-27, 2014
Garin-Hart-Yang Research
April 15-16, 2014
Tarrance Group
March 3-5, 2014
AVERAGES 46.67% 44.33% 9% +/-5.03 401.67
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

Sabato's Crystal Ball

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, changed West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District from “Toss-Up” to “Leans Republican” in April 2014. Kondik listed the following reasons for the change: the Tarrance Group poll above, the false rumor that Rahall considered retiring, "the overwhelming support voters gave to Mitt Romney in 2012" in the third district, and Rahall's inability to separate himself from Obama, who is largely unpopular in the district.[27]



Rahall's April 2014 ad, "Cecil 30."

Rahall's May 2014 ad, "My Home."

Rahall's July 2014 ad, "West Virginians."
  • Rahall launched an ad featuring Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers Association. In the ad, Roberts accused "billionaires of telling lies about Rahall.”

House Majority PAC

See also: House Majority PAC

House Majority PAC's December 2013 ad, "Cannot Change."

House Majority PAC's March 2014 ad, "Nick Rahall - Stick."

House Majority PAC's March 2014 ad, "Evan Jenkins - Worry."

House Majority PAC's April 2014 ad, "WV-03: Evan Jenkins - Spill."

House Majority PAC's April 2014 ad, "WV-03: Evan Jenkins - 'Counting'."

House Majority PAC, "WV-03: Evan Jenkins - 'Crystal Ball'."
  • House Majority PAC launched an ad buy on December 10, 2013, for Nick Rahall (D).[28] The ad ran throughout southern West Virginia for ten days and cost approximately $150,000.[28] “Right-wing, Koch Brothers-funded groups are spending big to prop up a two-time party-switcher, but Mountaineers know Nick Rahall is a fighter for southern West Virginia,” said Andy Stone, communications director for House Majority PAC.[28]
  • House Majority PAC released another $65,000 ad buy in March 2014 defending Rahall's record on coal.[29][30] In the ad, a man identified as retired coal miner Rick Ryan attacked “New York billionaires” for paying for attack ads against Rahall.[29] “Nick Rahall isn’t against coal. He saved my job and 500 others when he stopped Washington from closing the Hobet Mine...Those billionaires want you to vote for Evan Jenkins, a man the Gazette called a ‘shill’ for insurance companies,” Ryan said in the ad.[29]
  • The group released a third ad for Nick Rahall titled, "Worry," on March 11, 2014.[31] The ad featured a West Virginia coal-mining family warning "we both could get hurt" if Evan Jenkins, wins the race.[31] At the same time, the group paid $60,000 to put out the ad and keep another running.[31]
  • House Majority PAC released a $65,000 ad buy, "Spill", in April 2014, which accused Jenkins of delaying a water safety bill. The ad also tied Jenkins to the Koch bothers.[32]


"Evan Jenkins: Backbone."
  • Jenkins' first ad, "Backbone," attacked Rahall and House Majority PAC for their false claims in the "Worry" ad. After citing Factcheck.org's argument that the claims made by Rahall and HMP are "bogus," the narrator said, "Nick Rahall, a lying politician, just like Obama."[33]

Americans for Prosperity

See also: Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity's February 2014 ad, "Tell Rep. Rahall to Stop Obamacare."

Americans for Prosperity's April 2014 ad, "Your Plan Has Been Cancelled."

American Energy Alliance

American Energy Alliance's April 2014 ad, "Killing Coal."
  • The American Energy Alliance released the TV ad, "Killing Coal", attacking Rep. Nick Rahall on April 1, 2014. The campaign was backed by a $113,000 buy.[35]

National Republican Congressional Committee

NRCC's August 2013 ad, "Nick Rahall's Betrayal."
  • The NRCC released an ad in August 2013 that highlighted how Rahall betrayed West Virginians by becoming loyal to Washington D.C., voting for a carbon tax that hurt the coal industry and by attending an event where "environmentalists praised Obama's War on Coal." The ad concluded by directing viewers to the website Rahall for Congress. The site makes the argument that Rahall has joined the "War on Coal."

“Worry” Controversy

The ad "Worry," created by House Majority PAC in support of Nick Rahall (D), claimed that Evan Jenkins (R) “vowed to repeal black lung benefits” and “supports letting insurance companies charge women more for healthcare.”[36] FactCheck.org called the claims "bogus" explaining that, although Jenkins has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, doing so would not repeal the Federal Black Lung Benefits Program.[37] Jenkins supports repealing and replacing the ACA, but he has not explained how he would replace it. According to Jenkins’s website, "he is firmly opposed to any cuts to the Federal Black Lung Benefit Program."[38] Jenkins’s campaign also explained that he "would support a replacement bill that prohibits gender-based ratings when setting premiums."[37] According to WVGazette.com, “The fight comes down to who would better protect the expanded black lung protections that the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., added to the Affordable Care Act.”[39]

Campaign contributions

Nick Rahall

Candidates for Congress are required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Rahall's reports.[40]

Nick Rahall (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[41]April 15, 2013$109,681.30$142,748.79$(35,322.74)$217,107.35
July Quarterly[42]July 15, 2013$217,107.35$182,325.11$(45,026.77)$354,405.69
October Quarterly[43]October 15, 2013$354,405.69$158,529.65$(39,200.90)$473,734.44
Year-end[44]January 31, 2014$473,734$428,313$(62,168)$839,880
April Quarterly[45]April 15, 2014$839,880.26$324,255.05$(65,788.24)$1,098,347.07
Running totals

Richard Ojeda

Candidates for Congress are required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Ojeda's reports.[46]

Richard Ojeda (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[47]April 15, 2014$0.00$15,790.08$(9,260.49)$6,529.59
Running totals

Evan Jenkins

Candidates for Congress are required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Jenkins' reports.[48]

Evan Jenkins (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
October Quarterly[49]October 15, 2013$0$207,285$(10,342)$196,941
Year End[50]January 31, 2014$196,941$202,189$(32,012)$367,118
April Quarterly[51]April 15, 2014$367,118.19$193,529.93$(48,385.86)$512,262.26
Running totals

Voter turnout

According to records from West Virginia’s Secretary of State’s office, voter turnout has been declining in West Virginia since 2006. Turnout for the 2006 midterm primary was 26 percent and 44 percent in the general election. In 2010, turnout declined to 24 percent during the midterm primary and 42 percent in the general election.[3]

“During the 2012 general election, a presidential election year, West Virginia had the lowest voter turnout in the nation with about 47 percent of voters casting ballots. The U.S. Census Bureau said West Virginia was the only state where less than half of eligible voters made it to the polls,” according to West Virginia Metro News.[3]

Negative vote

Robert Rupp, a political science professor at West Virginia Wesleyan, noted that if Richard Ojeda had received a substantial number of votes it would have been “another sign that [Rahall] is in trouble and, as we know in past presidential primaries, West Virginians do use the primary to cast a negative vote.” Keith Judd, a Texas prison inmate, received 41 percent of the Democratic vote instead of President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential primary in West Virginia.[3]

District history

Candidate Ballot Access
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The 3rd Congressional District of West Virginia held an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012. Incumbent Nick Rahall won re-election in the district, defeating Rick Snuffer (R) in the general election.[52]

U.S. House, West Virginia District 3 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngNick Rahall Incumbent 53.5% 102,519
     Republican Rick Snuffer 46.5% 88,999
Total Votes 191,518
Source: West Virginia Secretary of State "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"


On November 2, 2010, Nick Rahall won re-election to the United States House. He defeated Elliott E. "Spike" Maynard (R) in the general election.[53]

U.S. House, West Virginia District 3 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngNick Rahall incumbent 56% 83,636
     Republican Elliott E. "Spike" Maynard" 44% 65,611
Total Votes 149,247

See also

External links


  1. The Associated Press, "Lawmaker switches parties, to seek Rahall's seat," July 31, 2013
  2. West Virginia Public Broadcasting, "Millions in Outside Cash Pours into Rahall-Jenkins Race," accessed July 10, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 WV Metro News, "Light voter turnout expected for Tuesday’s primary," accessed May 12, 2014
  4. Associated Press, "West Virginia - Summary Vote Results," May 13, 2014
  5. Roll Call, "2014 Election Race Ratings," accessed June 24, 2014
  6. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  7. West Virginia Secretary of State Website, "Voter Registration FAQ," accessed January 3, 2014
  8. West Virginia Redistricting Map "Map" accessed July 24, 2012
  9. West Virginia Secretary of State, "Candidate Search," accessed January 27, 2014
  10. Associated Press, "West Virginia - Summary Vote Results," May 13, 2014
  11. The Hill, "Manchin's State of Union guest to challenge Rep. Nick Rahall," accessed January 20, 2014
  12. Washington Post, "West Virginia Democrat switches parties to challenge Rahall," accessed July 31, 2013
  13. WSAZ.com, "Longtime U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall Wins Democratic Nomination," accessed May 14, 2014
  14. The Hill, "NRCC, promising to 'stay on offense,' targets seven Dems," accessed January 16, 2013
  15. FairVote, "NRCC targets foreshadow power of partisanship in 2014 elections," January 18, 2013
  16. Roll Call, "DCCC adds Nick Rahall to incumbent protection program," accessed March 11, 2014
  17. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, "DCCC Chairman Steve Israel Announces 2013-2014 Frontline Members," accessed March 5, 2013
  18. Roll Call, "House Republicans put 36 recruits ‘On the radar'," accessed November 21, 2013
  19. NRCC Young Guns, "List," accessed March 20, 2014
  20. Logan Banner, "Rahall denies he considered retirement," accessed April 8, 2014
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 The Hill, "Rahall: I supported Bush more than Obama," accessed March 13, 2014
  22. Clerk of the U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 504," accessed October 31, 2013
  23. Buzzfeed, "Government shutdown: How we got here," accessed October 1, 2013
  24. Clerk of the U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 504," accessed October 31, 2013
  25. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  26. U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 550," accessed October 31, 2013
  27. Metro News, "Sabato’s Crystal Ball goes to ‘leans Republican’ for Rahall-Jenkins," April 10, 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 The House Majority PAC, "House Majority PAC To Air WV-03 Ad," accessed December 11, 2013
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 The Hill, "Super-PAC defends Rahall on coal," accessed March 11, 2014
  30. National Journal, "Election day in FL-13; House majority PAC defends Rahall in WV-03; Crist Outraised Scott in Feb.," accessed March 11, 2014
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 The Hill, "Dem super-PAC launches new ad for Rahall," accessed March 17, 2014
  32. The Hill, "Dem super-PAC knocks Rahall opponent on chemical spill," April 8, 2014
  33. Roll Call, “Republican hits vulnerable West Virginia Democrat in first TV spot,” accessed April 17, 2014
  34. Politico, "Obama commits to at least 18 Democratic fundraisers—Jindal warns of ‘modern left’ at Reagan Library—FL-13 polls show Sink in the lead—Friday standings—Beyer gets a new endorsement in VA-08," accessed February 11, 2014
  35. National Journal, "ACA enrollment surpasses 7M; AEA goes after Begich, Rahall on coal; Gray loses D.C. mayoral primary," accessed April 2, 2014
  36. YouTube.com, "WV-03: Evan Jenkins - ‘Worry'," accessed March 28, 2014
  37. 37.0 37.1 FactCheck.org, "Bogus attack in coal mine country," accessed March 28, 2014
  38. Evan Jenkins for Congress, "Coal," accessed March 31, 2014
  39. W.V. Gazette, "Ad sparks dispute between Rahall, Jenkins camps," accessed March 26, 2014
  40. Federal Election Commission, "Rahall 2014 Summary reports," accessed July 25, 2013
  41. Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly," accessed July 25, 2013
  42. Federal Election Commission, "July Quarterly," accessed July 25, 2013
  43. Federal Election Commission, "October Quarterly," accessed October 30, 2013
  44. Federal Election Commission, "Year End Report," accessed February 19, 2014
  45. Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly," accessed April 17, 2014
  46. Federal Election Commission, "Ojeda 2014 Summary reports," April 17, 2014
  47. Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly," accessed April 17, 2014
  48. Federal Election Commission, "Jenkins 2014 Summary reports," accessed May 6, 2014
  49. Federal Election Commission, "October Quarterly," accessed February 26, 2014
  50. Federal Election Commission, "Year End Report," accessed February 26, 2014
  51. Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly," accessed April 17, 2014
  52. Politico, "2012 Election Map, West Virginia"
  53. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013