Candidates scramble to fill U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins' seat - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Candidates scramble to fill U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins' seat


BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA)  Battles lines are being drawn following Republican U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins' announcement that he will seek U.S. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's seat. 

Without an incumbent, the move leaves the 3rd District wide open with six months to go before the primary filing deadline. As of Friday, several candidates had announced their intention to run or that they were weighing a campaign. 

Among them, some familiar faces to the 3rd District, former Raleigh County Delegate and 2012 Republican nominee for the seat, Rick Snuffer.

"I've been a Conservative legislator who took Charleston on with the budget and transparency and brought about a difference down there. I've been a businessman who created jobs and I know what it takes to get Washington out of the way to create jobs. I'm working on a big project right now and I look forward to telling you more about it," said Snuffer.

Not everyone has made up their mind. West Virginia Republican Party Chairman and Attorney Conrad Lucas is waiting until after his July wedding to make a decision. 

"The field is evolving and we have six months before the filing deadline so a lot of folks are going to be looking at this. One of the reasons I'll be looking is I see myself as an electable conservative," said Lucas. "Despite the trends of this state, we know Democrats are certainly going to try to win this seat. And I've spent a lot of time on the ground organizing grassroots, volunteers, and activists. We're going to need everything we can to make sure this seat stays in the Republican column and I believe I can do that."  

Logan County Del. Rupie Phillips is all in. The Republican plans to run, in part, on his support for coal and guns. 

"My nickname around the Capitol is the coal delegate. I fight hard for coal. I'm from Logan County and I don't give up. If people give me a fair shake, they'll see that I'm sincere and I want to bring the big projects back to Southern West Virginia," said Del. Phillips. 

Two candidates have emerged on the Democratic side; the Senator who made headlines over the last year getting a medical marijuana bill through the West Virginia Senate; and after he was brutally attacked while attending a campaign rally in Logan County. Sen. Richard Ojeda is also an Army veteran who served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and was part of the response team after the Haiti earthquake in 2010. 

"I'm not in anybody's pocket. I'm telling you about what's under my feet because coal operators don't own me. They're not welcome in my office. I support coal miners. I don't have a problem with people coming into this state and making money, but take care of my state," said Sen. Ojeda.

Paul Davis, the CEO of Huntington's bus system, Tri-State Transit Authority, is also filing to run as a Democrat. He is hoping to bring jobs and help to the Mountain State. 

"I've been in public service almost all of my entire life and I think it's time to have a person that is for the people, working class people that can make a difference and I do believe I can make that difference," said Davis. 

The filing deadline to run in the primary for the 3rd District U.S. Congress seat is January, 2018. 


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