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Evan Jenkins awaits winner of West Virginia Dem primary

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 11:00 PM

HUNTINGTON — Huntington resident Evan Jenkins will face either longtime incumbent Rep. Nick Joe Rahall II, D-W.Va., or political newcomer Richard Ojeda II in the November general election.

Unchallenged in the Republican Primary, Jenkins said he’s looking forward to facing either candidate in the election during an interview Friday.  

Jenkins, who has occupied Cabell County’s District 5 Senate seat in the state Legislature for the past 18 years, made a somewhat controversial move last year when he switched from the Democratic party and became a Republican, then promptly filed to run against Rahall. He said what he’s encountered in his campaigning throughout the district is that constituents don’t seem to mind.

“What I’ve found consistently is that there is a very clear awareness that Washington is broken, we have failed leadership and West Virginia is under attack,” he said. “I changed my party because I simply could not be part of that agenda that is devastating to our state. The voters appreciate somebody who is willing to step up for them and stand up and fight for West Virginia.

“My party change was necessary because, in my effort and desire to go to Washington and bring new leadership and solve problems and to fight this anti-coal, government health care take over agenda.”

He said if the Democratic party regains control of the House in Washington, it would be time to “turn the lights out” in West Virginia.  Jenkins said he considered the issue for six months before making his decision.

“I met with county leaders throughout the 18 counties in the district, and received overwhelming support,” he said. “I think the fact I’m unopposed in the primary speaks to that.”

Jenkins also said Friday that he supports the extension of federal jobless benefits, a hotly contested issue in Washington.

“With all of the layoffs in the coal industry ... those who have been put out of a job by the failed policies of Washington gridlock should continue to receive those benefits. We should not place more harm on those people because of failed policies.”

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