An ad featuring the head of the United Mine Workers of America is the latest development in an intense campaign between Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D.W.Va., and challenger Sen. Evans Jenkins.
Rahall on Thursday released his re-election campaign’s first ad, which features Cecil Roberts, president of UMWA and a sixth-generation coal miner born in West Virginia.
During the new ad, Roberts says, “It makes me mad when billionaires are spending millions of dollars telling lies about Nick Rahall. Nick is our friend.
“Nick passed the Miner Safety Act and is fighting for our jobs, our healthcare and our pensions. The big-money special interests want to pick their own Congressman. Don’t let them do it. Stick with Nick.”
On Thursday morning, Andy Sere, a campaign strategist for state Sen. Evan Jenkins, R-Cabell, posted a comment on Twitter, attacking the new ad featuring Roberts.
“UMW boss featured in Rahall ad,” Sere wrote, said he is “extremely proud to make this endorsement.... Obama will work to ensure the future of American coal.”
At the end of his Twitter message, Sere wrote “LOL” — “Laugh Out Loud” in Internet jargon.
Later on Thursday, Rahall issued a statement about Sere’s comment.
“This is a disgusting new low for Evan Jenkins — callously attacking one of our state’s greatest leaders for miners and coal workers in order to further his own political ambitions.
“Cecil has spent his life standing up for the working families of our great state against attacks from out-of-state billionaires like those who are bankrolling Jenkins’ campaign, and I am proud to call Cecil my friend.
“Jenkins should apologize to Cecil and to every member of the United Mine Workers of America immediately for his inflammatory comments,” Rahall said.
Last July, Jenkins changed his party registration from Democratic to Republican to run against Rahall.
The Jenkins campaign is also airing a new ad, “Nick Rahall — Lying Politician Like Obama.”
“Nick Rahall’s attacks on Evan Jenkins,” the ad states, are “out-and-out lies, false. One ad so wrong, TV stations rejected it. Nick Rahall: a lying politician — just like Obama.
“A better choice? Evan Jenkins — the backbone to defend our way of life from Obama’s War on Coal. Jenkins puts West Virginians first, not politics. Work with both parties, create jobs: That’s Evan Jenkins.”
Matt Thornton, communications director for the House Majority PAC, pointed out on Thursday that the ad attacked by the Jenkins campaign was written and financed by his political action committee, not Rahall’s campaign.
“We’re the ones running that ad. We are prohibited from law from coordinating or working with the Rahall campaign. They are our ads,” Thornton said.
In a fund-raising e-mail sent out on Thursday morning, Jenkins stated, “Nick Rahall and his anti-coal Washington allies have been attacking me relentlessly on TV. They know they’re losing, and they’re desperate to do anything they can to change that.”
Rahall has repeatedly distanced himself from various policies of the Obama White House and strongly backed the coal industry.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5164.