Although the race for West Virginia's 3rd U.S. House District, is hotly contested, the lead for incumbent Democrat Nick Rahall is widening, attack ads from challenger Spike Maynard notwithstanding.
Previously referred to as flawed candidates, the 3rd House District grabs affects the southern portion of West Virginia. A career politician since 1977, Rahall held this seat since 1993. Known as a rank-and-file Democrat, he relies on PAC contributions to the tune of 57 percent of his war chest's content.
In contrast, Democrat-turned-Republican Maynard has garnered a lot of grassroots support -- individual contributions constitute 92 percent of his raised capital -- but it only offers the candidate half as much available money as the other contender. A conservative who earned the distinction of becoming a National Republican Congressional Committee "Young Gun," his differentiation from Rahall was thought to be enough to make him an attractive candidate, especially considering his former democratic leanings.
Abdul Rahman Al-Amoudi campaign ad misfires, sputters
Maynard has alleged that Rahall accepted campaign funds from Abdul Rahman Al-Amoudi, a former fund raiser and lobbyist who in 2004 received a 23-year sentence for a host of illegal money dealing charges, including the support of terrorism.
In a campaign ad that describes Rahall as "Good for the Middle East, good for Obama, bad for America," the Republican candidate describes a financial connection between an earlier Rahall campaign and Hamas. Although the Democratic candidate's campaign does not deny the allegation, it points out that the money was donated to charity in 2003.
Going a step further, executive director of the West Virginia Democratic Party, Derek Scarbro, pointed out that former President Bush, too, received funding from Al-Amoudi.
Polling heavily favors Rahall
In spite of the Cook Partisan Index rating of R+6 -- including the fact that the 3rd House District voted for McCain in 2008 and Bush in 2004 -- Anzalone-Liszt Research gives a 25-point lead to incumbent Rahall. With a spread of 59 percent to 34 percent, Maynard's lack of funds and somewhat astonishing failure to attract sympathetic voters who strongly disagree with TARP and healthcare reform is telling.
Perhaps the most serious death knell is the challenger's failure to attract independent voters. Valuing his unfavorable rating as being 10 points higher than his favorable showing, the pollsters point to the aggressiveness of Rahall's campaigning but also the past baggage that Maynard still carries from his upsettingly unsuccessful bid for re-election to the state's Supreme Court of Appeals in 2008.