Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) has been defeated for renomination in his Democratic primary by a more conservative opponent after 14 terms in office, the Associated Press projects.
With 84% of precincts reporting, state Sen. Mike Oliverio leads Mollohan by 56%-44%. Turnout was very low, with only about 56,000 votes so far in the precincts that have come in. Oliverio campaigned against Mollohan as being out of touch, and hammered the incumbent over a recently concluded ethics investigation into the congressman’s financial disclosures and earmarks — no charges were filed, and federal authorities closed the case. Mollohan was first elected in 1982, succeeding his father Bob Mollohan, who had in turn held the seat for 14 years before that.
More importantly, Oliverio campaigned from Mollohan’s right — an unusual step for a Democratic primary. Oliverio has attacked Mollohan for not opposing cap-and-trade enough, though Mollohan did vote against the energy bill last year. Oliverio has also criticized the Democratic leadership in Washington, hedging on whether he would vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. “I will vote for the candidate in the best interest of West Virginia,” Oliverio said two weeks ago. “Hopefully, there will be a better candidate than Nancy Pelosi.”