The race for West Virginia’s 3rd House District seat is as contentious as the candidates are flawed. Democratic contender Nick Rahall allegedly used his position in Congress to affect a lenient court sentence for his 27-year-old son in the wake of a felony robbery charge. Elliot “Spike” Maynard used to be a judge and state Supreme Court justice. He came under immense criticism when it was discovered that he was vacationing with a defendant whose case he heard and whose multimillion-dollar verdict he dismissed.
Candidates for West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District (two-year term)
(The district spans the southern portion of the state. It includes Beckley, Princeton and Huntington. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Nick Rahall
Political experience: From 1977 to 1992, Rahall represented West Virginia’s 4th District. From 1993 to now, he has represented the 3rd District. He currently chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources and holds basic membership in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Professional experience: Prior to his congressional tenure, Rahall worked as a sales representative, travel agent and business executive.
Key issues: Rahall voted in favor of the health care reform bill, the stimulus package and TARP. Gov Track identifies him as a rank-and-file Democrat, who has thus far sponsored 167 bills, of which only seven have been enacted. He has co-sponsored 2,690 bills.
Endorsements: Rahall received endorsements from the West Virginia AFL-CIO, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, Ocean Champions, the National Education Association, the National Right to Life Committee and the National Rifle Association.
Chances of maintaining his seat: Voting for a host of now-unpopular congressional legislation took its toll on Rahall’s popularity. Even so, OpenSecrets.org shows he managed to raise $808,936 of which 39 percent came from grassroots donors. Another 57 percent stemmed from PAC contributions. In the May 11 primary election, he received 67 percent of the vote as compared to his Democratic opponent, who only received 33 percent. It is clear that Rahall has a lot of grassroots support.
Candidate: Elliott “Spike” Maynard
Political experience: In 1976, Maynard was elected as Mingo County’s prosecuting attorney. He was re-elected in 1980. After appointed as a trial judge, he was twice elected to continue his judgeship. In 1996 he was elected to a 12-year state Supreme Court term.
Professional experience: In addition to his extensive legal experience and practice, Maynard worked as managing director of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce and also served in the United States Air Force.
Key issues: Maynard defines the same tenets as major issues that propelled the GOP to roll out the Pledge to America. He speaks out against cap and trade, the health care bill, the growing national deficit, stimulus spending bills and TARP.
Endorsements: Maynard stands firmly endorsed by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which has declared him to be a “Young Gun.” He also received the endorsement of the West Virginians for Life Political Action Committee.
Chances of unseating Nick Rahall: Open Secrets shows that Maynard raised $186,026, of which 95 percent come from individual contributors and only five percent from PACs. The numbers outline a very strong grassroots appeal to the electorate. That said, during the primary elections, he managed to secure only 30 percent, which placed him precariously close to the runner-up (27 percent). It is unclear if Republican voters will follow the party line in an effort to see the congressional seat returned to the party.
Key Differences between Nick Rahall and Spike Maynard
Jobs: Maynard favors open competition and free enterprise. He opposes TARP and speaks out against overly burdensome regulations of West Virginia’s coal industry. Rahall believes that employment comes from transportation infrastructure investments.
Seniors: Rahall opposes the use of Social Security funds for other programs and also strongly stands against Medicare cuts. Maynard agrees that Medicare cuts are unacceptable and further works to keep electrical rates inexpensive for residents of West Virginia.
Mining: Maynard says that he favors “common-sense environmental” rules but keeps out a wary eye for burdensome rules that cripple the coal mining industry. Rahall opposed the Bush Administration’s efforts to increase the allowable levels of breathable dust in the coal-mining environment.
West Virginia‘s 3rd U.S. Congressional District
Location: West Virginia 3rd District is a southern locale that includes Huntington, Beckley, Bluefield and Princeton.
2008 results: Rahall fought off the Republican contender for the seat with 66.9 to 33.1 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 95.1 percent of the district is white, 4.4 percent is black and less than one percent accounts for other races. Less than 1 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino of any race. Proximity One shows that 19.90 percent of residents live at the poverty level.
The Cook Partisan Index rates the West Virginia 3rd District as R+6, which gives it a slightly Republican edge.