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West Virginia Undergoing Political, Generational Change

Rahall’s 3rd District, in which Obama won just 33 percent of the vote, his lowest in the state, is rated a Tossup by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Jenkins, in a further illustration of West Virginia’s political state, switched from the Democratic to Republican party to challenge the 19-term incumbent. If Rahall, the last Democrat in the House delegation, comes back for another term, Republicans said state Del. John O’Neal, former state Sen. Bill Cole and state GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas would be top contenders.

Some Democrats grumbled that if Rahall loses that seat, the party’s chances of winning it again in the near future are grim. Still, other Democrats point to former state Speaker Rick Thompson, Reynolds and Green as recruits who could put the seat in play.

The other big House race in West Virginia this cycle is the race to replace Capito. The GOP primary is crowded and disorganized. The top three candidates are former U.S. International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane, former Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney and pharmacist Ken Reed.

While this is generally considered a Republican district, Democrats fielded a strong recruit in former state Democratic Chairman Nick Casey. Should Casey win, it would undoubtedly be a top GOP target in 2016. Republicans said state Dels. Eric Nelson, Paul Espinosa and Tim Armstead, the state House minority leader, would be seriously recruited early next year.

And if Casey loses, state Democrats named state Dels. Isaac Sponaugle and Skaff, and state Sen. Erik Wells, Tennant’s husband, as potential future recruits.

In the 1st District, the speculation in West Virginia is that McKinley is eyeing a gubernatorial run. Among potential successors, state Republicans named McKinley’s son, also named David, state Dels. Amanda Pasdon and Storch, and businessman Mac Warner, who ran in 2010.

Democrats, who lost the seat in 2010, said it could be in play in an open-seat situation and pointed to state Speaker Tim Miley as a legitimate contender.

Farm Team is a weekly, state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misspelled the state attorney general's last name. It is Morrisey.

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