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Rahall, Jenkins campaigns tussle over outside money

LOGAN, W.Va. — Often times in an election year things don’t really start to heat up until Labor Day weekend.
But that’s not the case in West Virginia’s Third Congressional District, where Democratic incumbent and 19-term congressman Nick Rahall is facing a stiff challenge from Republican and State Senator Evan Jenkins of Huntington.
It could be Rahall’s biggest challenge at reelection in recent memory.
Out of 435 nationwide house races only 17 are characterized by realclearpolitics.com as toss-ups.
The Jenkins-Rahall race is one of them.
Rahall is currently the only Democrat congressional House member in the state.
The campaign fired up over the weekend with the news of Alpha’s possible planned layoffs of 1,100 West Virginia surface coal miners. Jenkins at least partly blames Rahall and President Obama, whom Rahall endorsed twice in 2008 and in 2012.
There were more fireworks at Rahall’s “West Virginia Is Not For Sale” Democratic Unity event in Logan last Friday.
Rahall, the 65-year-old Beckley native, had criticized Jenkins for taking outside money for his campaign despite the fact the House Majority PAC, a Democratic group, has spent about $1 million on advertisements either supporting Rahall or attacking Jenkins, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Jenkins then fired back and offered a pledge.
He said both candidates should agree to not accept any more outside money.
Under Jenkins’ proposal, each campaign would have been required to publicly call on such groups to not spend any more money on the congressional race.
Candidates are legally prohibited from any sort of coordination with such outside groups.
Rahall, however, reportedly declined the offer a few hours later.
“It is too bad this topic could not have been discussed before Evan Jenkins sold his sold to New York billionaires,” Sam Raymond, Rahall’s campaign manager wrote, in declining the proposal. “Unfortunately Jenkins’ proposal is more than a year and over $2 million too late.”
At the Logan rally, Rahall offered, “People want to know why I’m not for limiting outside expenditures at this point … It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to fill out, to figure out, what a disadvantage that would put me at if I were to accept that proposal at this late date.”
The Jenkins campaign responded sharply and swiftly, calling Rahall a hypocrite.
“Rarely does a politician actually admit to putting naked self-interest above all else,” said Jenkins strategist Andy Seré in a written statement. “Today, Nick Rahall revealed who he really is: a dishonest hypocrite who’d much rather pocket anti-coal millions to preserve his Washington perks than give West Virginians a voice, while assisting the coal families whose livelihoods he helped Obama destroy.”
Jenkins’ proposal also called on both candidates to refuse donations from political action committees and to donate any money they’ve received so far from PACs to charity.
“If Rahall’s rhetoric is sincere, this pledge is a perfect opportunity for him to demonstrate that he is capable of being honest with West Virginians,” Sere said in an email.
The conservative Americans for Prosperity and American Energy Alliance have spent $2 million to bash Rahall. The liberal House Majority PAC has spent $1.1 million against Jenkins…

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