Rahall, Snuffer set for rematch in 3rd Congressional - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Rahall, Snuffer set for rematch in 3rd Congressional

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Rep. Nick Joe Rahall Rep. Nick Joe Rahall
Delegate Rick Snuffer Delegate Rick Snuffer

Long-serving Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall will face competition from an old rival — first term House of Delegates Member Rick Snuffer who won the Republican nomination Tuesday for the 1st Congressional District.

"Over the next six months, we will be working hard to earn folks' trust and make our case to southern West Virginians in all 18 counties of the district," Snuffer said. "Tonight, though, I want to thank the Lord; my wife Lori and our three sons for their love and support; our friends and local supporters for their confidence; Lee Bias and Bill Lester for a spirited primary campaign focused on the issues; and conservative leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for investing in our campaign so early in this process."

Snuffer's first battle against Rahall in 2004 for the same seat resulted in a 30-point-margin loss. In 2004, Snuffer won only Raleigh County, the home county for both contenders.

Snuffer, 50, also finished third among six candidates in the 2006 U.S. Senate primary.

He said he was more hopeful in this year's match against Rahall and looked forward to debating the Congressman.

"I was a brand new candidate, I didn't know how to run, how to raise money and was really untested," Snuffer said. "Yet, we beat him here in Raleigh County where they knew us both. Since then, the Congressman has gone 100 percent behind the president who is totally anti-West Virginia."

Snuffer said he believes the campaign will focus primarily on two issues – Obama's health care reform and the policies of his administration's Environmental Protection Agency.

"We need to take care of this EPA and immediately repeal the health care bill," Snuffer said. "Those are the two issues that will matter immediately to the West Virginia economy and voters."

Rahall has served in Congress for 18-terms. GOP candidates campaigned against Rahall, tying the Congressman to issues such as the recession and the federal attack on the coal industry.

"It's time for Nick Rahall to come home," Snuffer said. "After 36 years in Washington, it has become increasingly clear that Congressman Rahall has become disconnected from the problems facing middle-class southern West Virginians and is more loyal to President Obama than his own constituents. Just last week, Rahall endorsed this president for re-election, despite acknowledging his administration is waging a War on Coal that's destroying West Virginia jobs.

The Congressman was not opposed by any other Democrats in the 2012 primary.

Snuffer beat out opponent Lee Bias, another former challenger to Rahall's long-held congressional seat, and Cabell County's Tea Party candidate Bill Lester.

Bias is a paramedic and nurse, and said his profession would give unique insight on health care issues. Snuffer, a state legislator and homebuilder said he identified with hardworking West Virginians. Lester, a trial lawyer for more than 30 years, took a combative stance against federal government, particularly on issues regarding coal.

With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Snuffer received 54 percent of the vote in the primary, followed by Bias at 29 percent, while Lester captured 17 percent of the vote.

"It was kind of a regional vote, but we did a lot better in Lee's region than he did in ours," Snuffer said.

According to the April campaign finance filings with the Federal Election Commission, Rahall will be entering the race with a lot more money to spend.

Snuffer had $15,146 total receipts as of April 18, compared to Rahall's $713,975. Snuffer had recorded just under $9,000 cash on hand, while Rahall has almost $843,000 cash on hand.

Snuffer indicated he had received more since that filing, which will be reflected in future reports.

As of the April filing, Snuffer had received all of his campaign contributions from individuals or candidate loans. About two-thirds of Rahall's total receipts came from non-party political action committees.

Snuffer said he believes the people of West Virginia will not support Rahall because of his endorsement of President Barack Obama.

"How can you defend his policies against West Virginia? It's just amazing to me," Snuffer said minutes after the election was called in his favor. "How can you defend him when last week our governor said his policies would destroy the economic fabric of our state. The next day the Congressman endorsed him."

Snuffer said he hopes Obama will be ousted in the upcoming election, but if he remains in office, he will not support his policies. Snuffer also indicated support for leading presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  

"Southern West Virginia is special. Our values, our way of life and our hard-working people are special," Snuffer said. "President Obama does not understand us; in fact, he's downright hostile to folks in our community. Unfortunately, Congressman Rahall is helping him enact his agenda at our expense."

In the last election, Rahall pointed out that as Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee he gave West Virginia a lot of power in Congress. Since then, he has been recruited to the Transportation and Infrastructure committee, a much more powerful Congressional group where he is the top Democrat.

Committee chairmanships ranking positions are highly sought out by elected officials and are typically given to more senior members of Congress.

Rahall could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.