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As West Virginia turned red, Rahall caught in flood

Register-Herald photo by Rick Barbero U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, left, points to the "I Voted" sticker on Wayne Rebich of Grandview on Tuesday in  Beckley.
Register-Herald photo by Rick Barbero
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, left, points to the “I Voted” sticker on Wayne Rebich of Grandview on Tuesday in Beckley.

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The sea change in West Virginia is clear. You could call it the “Red Sea.”

Republicans slathered the state political map in red Tuesday, winning seats held by Democrats for decades on both the federal and state levels. As the blue — along with Democrats’ hope — faded on the map Tuesday night, the casualties from a hard-fought campaign littered the Mountain State’s political pathway like the last leaves of autumn.

Targeted by outside money and a newcomer in the Republican Party, although not a newcomer to state politics, the 3rd District was a battleground of both philosophy and loyalties, with State Sen. Evan Jenkins craftily portraying Rahall’s congressional votes as favoring President Barack Obama.

Congressman Nick Rahall’s defeat is part of a tide-swell of conservatism in the Mountain State, and Rahall accepts that as part of the people’s “independent-minded, strong-willed” nature.

“(They) feel particularly angered right now by the Washington mess that appears to be threatening (their) way of life, and legitimately concerned,” he said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with The Register-Herald. “That has caused an anger against all incumbents and anybody who appears to be connected to Washington in any way, shape or form.”

Rahall said he gets it.

“I’m frustrated, too, at the way this administration has turned its back on our coal jobs and truly not appeared to want to help us get through the problems we have today in the coalfields…

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