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A "Toss Up?"

February 19, 2010 - Joselyn King
The Cook Political Report now considers West Virginia's 1st District congressional race a "toss-up."

On Thursday, the political analysts moved the race from its "lean Democratic" list to the "toss-up" ranking, and placed incumbent U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., among the "16 most-vulnerable Democrat incumbents."

"West Virginia insiders say that this may be one of a handful of districts in the country where Obama's approval ratings are actually upside-down among Democrats," the report states.

"That's plausible, given the fact that 'cap and trade' has become a political third rail in coal country and Obama didn't even break 20 percent of the May 2008 Democratic presidential primary vote here."

The NRCC is backing David McKinley in West Virginia's 1st District race. Other Republicans to appear on the May 11 primary ballot are Cindy Hall and Patricia Levenson of Wheeling, Mac Warner and Sarah Minear of Morgantown and Thomas Stark of Parkersburg.

On the Democratic ticket, the incumbent Mollohan faces a challenge from current state Sen. Mike Oliverio, D-Monongalia.

"It's an excellent development ­ an accurate picture of where the race stands," said Andy Sere, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "The factors cited by the Cook Report, all of them in tandem, add up to toxic combination.

"We'll see how the race unfolds. It is a telling sign of just how vulnerable he (Mollohan) has become."

Despite the fact Mollohan has been in Congress for more than 28 years, he is now at the same level as many freshmen incumbents considered "vulnerable," Sere noted.

"And most analysts are predicting a 20 seat or more pickup," he said. "It's not a good place to be. I don't think he realizes the challenge that faces him."


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