WV-01: Tea-Party Vs. Blue-Dog?

 

Former State Senator, Mike Oliverio (D-WV), recently beat out 14-term incumbent Alan Mollohan for the Democratic Party's nomination for the West Virginia 1st Congressional District.  Although voter-turnout was somewhere around the dismal range of 20-25% (possibly less), the Oliverio-Mollohan match-up was one of the first exciting elections of 2010.  No doubt this will be a year that incumbents in Congress, specifically Democrats, will have a harder time getting re-elected.  Alan Mollohan had problems with Oliverio's negative campaign ads (specifically his disregard for paying taxes and subsequent forclosure on a home in North Carolina).

Mollohan's reign in the first district will end, and this battle royale for the Congressional seat will pit Oliverio against the Repulican nominee David McKinley.  McKinley is a Wheeling businessman.

The 2010 election marked Mollohan's first legitimate challenge to his Congressional seat since 1992 when redistricting efforts pitted him against 2nd District Rep. Harley Staggers, D-W.Va.

The congressman ran a relatively lethargic campaign until recently, when he began airing TV ads calling Oliverio dangerously conservative and bad for business and labor. Oliverio, in contrast, campaigned aggressively since entering the race in January.

Oliverio will face Republican David McKinley in the November election.

McKinley emerged from a bog of GOP candidates, claiming about 35 percent of the 1st District vote. He downed Mac Warner by about 3,500 votes. Sarah Minear finished third with 21 percent (8,428). Tom Stark, Patricia Vangilder Levenson and Cindy Hall netted less than 10 percent each.

Source:  Parkersburg News

 The Parkersburg News recently had all of the Congressional candidates write a column for the paper detailing why they were the worthy candidate for the position.  McKinley, whom I didn't have extensive knowledge about, appeared repping the tea-party mantra

It's time to change the political culture of Washington. All across America, people are rejecting the liberal Obama-Pelosi agenda. We're tired of excessive spending, government takeovers, and the "war on coal." It's time to send someone to Washington who will stand up for West Virginia values.

A lot of people who supported Mollohan during the primary regarded Oliverio as a Blue-Dog, or even a DINO. Oliverio is a co-chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), something which Mollohan called out as a right-wing organization.  Oliverio had this to say in his Letter to the Editor Column

Mollohan has centered his television advertising around my leadership role in what he calls a right-wing organization. The truth is, it is a non-partisan professional organization of almost 2,000 legislators from across the country founded on the principles of Thomas Jefferson.

The organization his ads reference is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization previously chaired by Joe Manchin, a person that I believe has served our state admirably. Former ALEC executive director Alan Smith has written a letter to newspapers in the Northern District expressing nothing short of outrage that Alan Mollohan would smear an organization that seeks to offer model legislation aimed at protecting individual liberties and keeping jobs in the United States.

Joe Manchin is the current Democratic Governor of West Virginia, whose term ends soon and will most likely be vying for the Senate seat that will probably be vacated by long time serving Senator Robert C. Byrd. 

My prediction is that Mike Oliverio will carry the district and win the election in November, but time will show how McKinley crafts his campaign.  If Oliverio was able to unseat such a long-term incumbent, I'd say his chances are looking pretty good.

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