Mollohan Learns Political Fate Tonight in West Virginia
For years, Republicans have discussed seriously targeting Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.). Tonight, after nearly three decades of of service in Congress, a Democrat just might beat the GOP to the punch.
Democratic challenger Michael Oliverio, a state senator, presents Mollohan with his toughest re-election race since the last round of redistricting in 1990. The last time Mollohan had a primary challenger at all was in 1998, and the incumbent has received at least 64 percent in each general election contest since 1984.
The 1st District primary race between Mollohan and Oliverio has been marked by attack ads and negative campaigning. In a recent commercial, Oliverio blasts Mollohan for being under investigation by the F.B.I. and states Mollohan “is one of the most corrupt members of Congress.” Oliverio has made ethics and integrity the cornerstones of his campaign and has also taken shots at the incumbent for allegedly getting rich off deals funneling money to friends’ businesses, a reported subject of the Justice Department probe.
Mollohan responds in an ad that he was exonerated by the Justice Department (which ended its four-year investigation in January) and says Oliverio’s ads are misleading. Mollohan counters that Oliverio is a “right-wing” candidate who seeks to privatize Social Security.
Each candidate commissioned polls that show a tight race and national political prognosticators indicate the outcome of tonight’s race isn’t easy to predict.
Additional races going on around the country tonight include:
**West Virginia: **The Mollohan-Oliverio primary is the marquee race in tonight’s West Virginia primary, but tonight’s race will also determine the GOP challenger to Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall in the 3rd District.
Nebraska: Rep. Lee Terry (R) faces a primary challenge from health care consulting firm owner Matt Sakalosky in the 2nd District, and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R) also faces challengers in the 1st District. Though some local news outlets have devoted attention to these races, the challengers in both contests have been significantly outraised and remain largely unknown.
**Georgia Special Election: **Several special elections are taking place in Georgia tonight, most notably the 9th District race to succeed Republican Nathan Deal, who resigned this year in order to focus on his bid for governor. But tonight is unlikely to yield a final outcome. A total of eight candidates, six of them Republican, are competing on the same ballot. If no single candidate receives a majority (a likely result tonight), the top two finishers, regardless of party, will compete in a runoff three weeks from now.
To further complicate things, tonight’s election in Georgia’s 9th is only to elect a member to finish out Deal’s current term through Jan. 2011. A regular primary election will be held in July to elect a member to serve in the next session of Congress beginning in January.