Rep. Alan Mollohan- D West Virginia is the latest incumbent to be told by his constituents that his services will no longer be required as the result of a primary contest. The 14-term Congressman had made some bad choices recently, and they finally caught up with him.
Alan Mollohan was beaten by State Sen. Mike Oliverio who will not face a Republican, former state delegate David McKinley this Fall.
Alan Mollohan had two problems that finally caused him to be too much a stench in the nostrils of his constituents of the 1st District of West Virginia. One was his various ethics problems, brought on by the temptations inherent in being a Chairman of one of the Appropriations Subcommittees. Mollohan had faced charges that he had directed earmarks to nonprofit organizations which were controlled by people who were co-investors with him in various business ventures. Mollohan has been under investigation by the Justice Department which, ironically enough, his subcommittee controls the funding of.
More irksome to the people in the 1st District of West Virginia was Mollohan’s support of health care reform and cap and trade. Health care reform is wildly unpopular with most Americans, especially with the culturally conservative people in West Virginia. Cap and trade is a measure that is aimed at the heart of the coal industry, which is a major employer in West Virginia.
The fall of Alan Mollohan, along with the previous fall of Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah, shows that it is not a good year to be an incumbent, especially if one has left oneself vulnerable to an attack from ones right. Alan Mollohan has just suffered term limits, thanks to his insular, inside the Washington Beltway mindset and the wrath of his constituents.
Republicans, who had hoped to run against an ethically challenged, politically damaged Alan Mollohan, will have a slightly tougher time winning the 1st District seat from Mike Oliverio.
The second takeaway from the fall of Alan Mollohan is that there are a number of incumbents who need to be afraid, very afraid. Sen. Arlen Specter and Sen. Blanche Lincoln are facing tough primaries and may be the next to fall.
In most years, the reelect numbers for incumbents have been in the 90 percent range, something that has troubled people who believe that office holders should not feel too comfortable in their positions. This should not be a problem in the 2010 election. The high handed methods of the current Congress and White House, passing measures like health care reform against the will of the American people, are largely what is to blame for this situation. The members of Congress have exercised what passes for their judgment. Now the American people are exercising theirs.
Sources: Rep. Alan Mollohan loses Democratic primary in West Virginia, Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, May 12th, 2010
Justice probing lawmaker with oversight over department, Carol D, Leonnig, Washington Post, November 24th, 2009
The Fall of Sen. Robert Bennett, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, May 10th, 2010