Tuesday is the West Virginia primary, and as we've reported before, District 1 incumbent Democrat Alan Mollohan (who represents the north of the state, including Wheeling and Morgantown) faces fights not only from within his party but from three Republicans fighting for the spot come November. It's his toughest battle since taking over the seat from his father in 1983.
To strengthen his position, Mollohan began airing his own TV ad accusing Oliverio of belonging to a "right-wing group" that supports "devastating free-trade policies that send our steel jobs overseas." He also said the group -- the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council -- supported Social Security privatization.
In the early part of this campaign, Mollohan's TV ad buys had been relatively light. But in the closing weeks of the race he's kicked his attacks into gear. In a new TV ad, he accuses Oliverio of favoring cuts to mine safety budgets. With emotions still running high following the April Big Branch Mine explosion, this could be a particularly devastating attack.
Meanwhile, on the GOP side, the contest between ex-WV GOP Chair David McKinley (R), ex-state Sen. Sarah Minear (R) and businessman Mac Warner (R) appears to be setting up as a battle of geography -- and money.
McKinley and Minear have been flooding the airwaves with TV ads purchased largely out of their own pockets. Minear has dumped over $542K of her own cash into the race, while McKinley has put in $250K. Warner has raised the least of all the candidates, but GOP polling reportedly shows him surging, possibly as a result of the infighting between the 2 top spenders.
One GOPer who's seen polling in the contest says McKinley owns the Wheeling TV market, but Warner has made inroads in the affordable Parkersburg and Clarksburg markets, largely as a result of the McKinley and Minear bash-fest. The Clarksburg market was thought to be Minear's base, but with Warner surging, this GOPer believes her only hope at this point is to go up on Clarksburg TV and try to topple Warner.
And that appears to be happening. Another source notes that the Clarksburg and Parkersburg will be flooded with Minear and McKinley TV ads in the next 6 days, and at least one candidate will be aiming for Warner.
Those new anti-Warner ads are likely to feature tax liens placed against Warner's family business, a story that The Hill broke Tuesday as Warner's surged in the polls.