Representative Alan Mollohan, a 14-term Democrat, has become the first House member of the 2010 campaign to lose a re-election bid after a West Virginia state senator defeated him.
Unofficial returns from Tuesday’s election showed state Senator Mike Oliverio leading Mollohan 56 percent to 44 percent in the primary vote to become the Democratic Party’s candidate for mid-term elections in November.
His defeat came just days after Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah lost a primary challenge on Saturday that bumped him from contention for the November ballot.
Oliverio accused Mollohan, who has held his post for nearly three decades, of being a corrupt and out-of-touch Washington politician in an election year where anti-incumbent sentiment is running high.
The race turned ugly, with Oliverio labeling Mollohan, first elected in 1982 to a seat long held by his father, as “one of the most corrupt members of Congress,” charges the incumbent dismissed as lies.
Mollohan, 66, came under fire from anti-abortion activists for his support of the Democrats’ sweeping healthcare reform bill and was criticized in coal-heavy West Virginia for his eleventh-hour opposition to climate change legislation.
“This was a tough and spirited primary process and we are confident that this historically Democratic seat will remain Democratic this November,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Chris Van Hollen said in a statement.
“On behalf of the DCCC, I thank Alan for friendship and his outstanding years of service to our country and West Virginia.”
Oliverio, 46, will face former state Republican Party chairman David McKinley in this fall’s mid-term elections.