05 October 2009

Election 2010: Congress

U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-1st, cruised to a 14th House term last year for wont of an opponent, and West Virginia's GOP is hoping to avoid a repeat of that in 2010, The Associated Press reports.

"Republicans hope the political climate has changed, and that Mollohan's positions on issues like health care will make him susceptible to a conservative challenger," AP's Tom Breen writes. "But whether those hopes have any concrete basis is an open question."

The article also notes that "the last time Republicans made a bid to unseat Mollohan was 2006, in the wake of reports alleging a federal probe into whether he has benefited from directing federal funds to nonprofit groups he helped start." But it adds that "Mollohan has said he's never been contacted about the investigation," and that "to date, no one has been charged."

Mollohan continues to bear scrutiny over these allegations, and his campaign fund listed spending more than $296,000 between November 2006 and October 2008 on legal fees. However, it has reported no such spending since then.

The AP article also said that four Republicans have filed precandidacy papers to challenge Mollohan next year. Such filings are free, and non-binding. The official filing period begins Jan. 11, and the fee for congressional candidates is $1,740.

Breen also writes that "state Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, has also said he's considering a challenge to Mollohan, although Barnes hasn't filed paperwork yet."

Like much of his district, Barnes does not reside in Mollohan's district -- but the U.S. Constitution would not require him or any other congressional candidate even to live in West Virginia until Election Day 2010.