Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va., has been elected and re-elected to Congress 19 times to his southern West Virginia seat.
But this November could be different, and his political future is very much in doubt. In 2012, the congressman outspent Republican Rick Snuffer $1.7 million to $596,000 en route to an eight-point victory. This cycle, GOP-friendly outside groups have already spent approximately $1.5 million in negative television ads against Rahall and another $400,000 on direct mail. And Republicans have a much better candidate in party-switching state Sen. Evan Jenkins.
Rahall has never been in a race like this before. He’s been under a barrage of attacks, with more to come, and he’ll have to show a level of campaign agility that he has never needed. Democrats can complain about outside spending, but that doesn’t negate the impact of the ads.
It remains to be seen how Jenkins will react when Democrats turn up the heat on him, but he has the advantage of being a Republican running in an anti-Obama district in the midterm of an unpopular Democratic president.
Read the full analysis of the race in the March 28 edition of The Rothenberg Political Report ($) .