By Ron Gregory
LOGAN — Third District Congressman Nick Rahall kicked off his coalfield campaign just down the street from where his opponents have opened their first southern West Virginia headquarters.
An overflow crowd of more than 65 people was on hand when Rahall welcomed visitors to his new headquarters on Dingess Street in downtown Logan. Two weeks ago, Republicans opened a headquarters a block away, touting it as the first such GOP headquarters in history.
Those who spoke Friday evening at Rahall’s event were cordial in their comments about all constituents, Republican, Democrat and independent. But they were unified in one message: the seniority of Democrat Rahall cannot be lost to the inexperience of a Republican challenger.
Speaker after speaker, including state Sen. Art Kirkendoll and state Treasurer John Perdue, echoed the message: Rahall has clout that his opponent would not.
Even Rahall was in the spirit of the evening, telling those crowded into the building that, “if re-elected, I will be at least the fourth-ranking member in the entire House of Representatives.” That message brought cheers from those on hand, which included people from Boone, Logan and Mingo counties.
Perdue, a Boone County native, said this “may be the most critical election in a lifetime,” as he urged the crowd to “work extra hard for Nick Joe Rahall.”
Kirkendoll expressed a similar position, noting that such accomplishments as Corridor G (U.S. Highway 119) and the state Route 10 connection between Man and Logan “would not have been possible if Nick Joe Rahall had not been there fighting for those kinds of projects.”
Rahall defended his support for coal mining. “I would be a fool not to support coal,” Rahall said. He added, “Anyone who says I have not been a fighter for coal must be lost in outer space somewhere.”
Later, Rahall told supporters the headquarters will remain open “through the election” as a gathering place for citizens and for those needing his campaign material.
Other Democrat candidates also are expected to work from the headquarters and several had campaign material on hand for the opening.