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Nick Rahall

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Nick Rahall

Nick Rahall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by Bob Wise
Succeeded by Evan Jenkins
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Ken Hechler
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Richard Pombo
Succeeded by Doc Hastings
Personal details
Born Nick Joe Rahall II
(1949-05-20) May 20, 1949
Beckley, West Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Melinda Rahall (Second wife)
Alma mater Duke University
George Washington University
Religion Presbyterianism

Nick Joe Rahall II (born May 20, 1949) is an American former politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as a U.S. Representative from West Virginia from 1977 to 2015.

From 1977 to 1993, he served the now-defunct 4th congressional district. From 1993 to 2015, he served the 3rd congressional district. His district included much of the southern, rural portion of the state,[1] including Huntington, Bluefield, and Beckley. Rahall was the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Rahall lost a bid for re-election to Congress in 2014, losing to West Virginia State Senator Evan Jenkins.[2][3][4]


  • Early life, education, and early career 1
  • U.S. House of Representatives 2
    • Elections 2.1
    • Committee assignments 2.2
  • Political issues 3
    • Israel 3.1
    • Mining 3.2
    • Environmental issues 3.3
    • Foreign policy 3.4
    • Endorsement of Barack Obama 3.5
    • Ethical issues 3.6
  • Electoral history 4
  • Personal life 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life, education, and early career

Rahall was born in Beckley, West Virginia, the son of Mary Alice and Nick Joe Rahall.[5][6] He is a Presbyterian of Lebanese-Protestant descent, whose grandparents immigrated from Lebanon.[7][8][9][10] His family owned radio station WWNR, which his father started with his uncles Farris, Sam, and Deem, and expanded to own other radio stations in a number of states.[11][12][12]

Rahall graduated in 1971 from

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ken Hechler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 4th congressional district

Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Bob Wise
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Evan Jenkins
Preceded by
Richard Pombo
Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee
Succeeded by
Doc Hastings

External links

  1. ^ Nathan L. Gonzales (January 15, 2013). "West Virginia Senate: Democrats Look for Winner".  
  2. ^ a b Timothy Cama. "Dem Rahall loses House seat after 38 years". The Hill. 
  3. ^ a b c "Mooney wins crowded GOP House primary; Capito, Tennant to face off in W.Va. Senate race". Fox News. May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Kyle Balluck (April 6, 2014). "Report: Rep. Nick Rahall considered retirement". The Hill. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Election 2012; Nick Rahall (D); U.S. Representative – WV3". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Page 1". April 23, 1996. 
  7. ^ a b "House Passes Resolution Backing Israel". PBS NewsHour. July 20, 2006. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ Melissa McNamara (July 20, 2006). "House Passes Pro-Israel Resolution". CBS News. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  9. ^ Kristina Peterson (August 8, 2013). "Some Democrats Waver on Immigration". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  10. ^ Bernarnd Weinraub (June 18, 1982). "HOUSE PANEL APPROVES $20 MILLION TO LEBANON". The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  11. ^ Mannix Porterfield. "Former W.Va. governor Hulett Smith passes at 93". Register Herald. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "·". Beckley Post-Herald; The Raleigh Register from Beckley, West Virginia. November 14, 1971. p. 26. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Nick Rahall for The United States House of Representatives WV3". Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Congressional Directory for the 113th Congress (2013–14), February 2014". U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 289–90. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Martinson, Erica (June 26, 2014). "Coal fires up West Virginia House race".  
  16. ^ Huber, Tim (October 26, 2010). "Rahall, Maynard spar in debate". Herald Dispatch. 
  17. ^ a b c d Neubauer, Chuck (June 17, 2004). "A Sibling Symbiosis in the Capitol; A lobbyist for Qatar is sister to a congressman who is a key advocate for the Arab monarchy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  18. ^ Kaplan, Rebecca (July 24, 2013). "For Rahall, Representation Means Fighting for Resources". National Journal. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  19. ^ "WV District 4 – D Primary Race – May 11, 1976". Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  20. ^ "WV District 4 Race – Nov 2, 1976". Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  21. ^ "WV District 4 – D Primary Race – May 9, 1978". Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Candidate – Nick Joe Rahall II". Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  23. ^ "WV District 4 – D Primary Race – May 8, 1990". Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Final election results: Pennsylvania through Wyoming (including U.S. territories)". USA TODAY. November 8, 1990. 
  25. ^ "WV District 4 Race – Nov 6, 1990". Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  26. ^ Workman, Jim (November 3, 2010). "Rahall is elected to 18th straight term in Congress". The Register-Herald (Beckley, WV). Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  27. ^ Joshua Miller (October 18, 2011). "Snuffer Moves Toward Bid for Rahall Seat". Roll Call. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  28. ^ "West Virginia Congressional District 3 election results". Decision 2012. NBC News. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  29. ^ Justin Sink (January 18, 2014). "Manchin's State of Union guest to challenge Rep. Nick Rahall". The Hill. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Mooney wins crowded GOP House primary; Capito, Tennant to face off in W.Va. Senate race". Fox News. May 13, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  31. ^ Jim Workman (May 13, 2014). "Rahall, Jenkins set to face off in 3rd District Congressional Race". West Virginia Illustrated. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  32. ^ Boucher, Dave (July 30, 2013). "Nick Rahall, Evan Jenkins contributed to each other's campaigns".  
  33. ^ Abby Livingston (July 9, 2014). "Nick Rahall Bets Political Survival on Local Brand". At the Races; Roll Call. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  34. ^ a b "NRA endorses Nick Rahall for Congress". Charleston Daily Mail. September 18, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Longtime W.Va. Congressman Faces Tough Re-election". Newsmax. May 3, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Looking into the Crystal Ball". West Virginia Metro News. October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  37. ^ "House Ratings". The Rothenberg Political Report. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  38. ^ ABC News. "Republicans Projected To Seize Control Of The Senate: 2014 Midterm Elections Results Live". ABC News. 
  39. ^ Timothy Cama. "Dem Rahall loses House seat after 38 years". TheHill. 
  40. ^ "West Virginia Election Results". 
  41. ^ Isidore, Chris (November 6, 2014). "Fat pensions for outgoing lawmakers".  
  42. ^ a b c Hanley, Delinda (June 2004). "Congressman Nick Rahall Assesses Impact Of Iraq and Israel on U.S. Elections". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. pp. 29, 59. Retrieved April 21, 2012. 
  43. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (July 26, 2006). "Congress Cautioned On Support of Israel". Washington Post. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  44. ^ Melissa McNamara (July 20, 2006). "House Passes Pro-Israel Resolution". CBS News. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  45. ^ Sarah Stern (2011). Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West's Fatal Embrace. Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  46. ^ "U.S. Urged to Lift Just-Extended Lebanon Travel Ban". Associated Press. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  47. ^ Hananel, Sam. "Congress proposes mine bill to crack down on repeat violators". The Register-Herald. Associated Press. 
  48. ^ Lillis, Mike (October 17, 2010). "Rahall takes sole credit for blocking bill to end mountaintop mining". The Hill. Retrieved October 17, 2010. 
  49. ^ Biggers, Jeff (July 10, 2009). "Should Wilderness Society Strip US Rep. Nick Rahall of the Ansel Adams Award?". The Huffington Post. 
  50. ^ "U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE CONVERSATIONS — Nick Rahall". Register Herald. Retrieved October 14, 2010. 
  51. ^ "Dems join GOP in fight to block EPA climate rules". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  52. ^ Boucher, David (September 3, 2013). "Rahall to officially start re-election bid". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  53. ^ Kercheval, Hoppy (January 5, 2013). "Rahall vote gives opponents ammo". West Virginia Metro News. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  54. ^ "Rahall endorses Barack Obama". The Herald Dispatch. March 6, 2008. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  55. ^ "CSPAN Today in Washington". CSPAN. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  56. ^
  57. ^ Shiderer, Kyle; Weinglass, Ilan. "The Saudi Penetration into American NGOs". In Stern, Sarah. Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network. Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 81–104. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  58. ^ John Bresnahan (August 12, 2010). "Questions raised about Nick Rahall helping son". Politico. Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  59. ^ "Democrat Nick Rahall misused official stationery". Associated Press. Retrieved August 13, 2010. 
  60. ^ "Rahall Admits to Using Congressional Stationary to ask Judge for Favor". WSAZ News Channel 3. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  61. ^ Pergram, Chad (August 12, 2010). "Second Congressman allegedly misuses stationary". Fox News. Retrieved October 16, 2010. 
  62. ^ a b Jared Hunt (September 21, 2011). "Rahall on list of most corrupt Congresspeople". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  63. ^ "Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) Named One of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress.". 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  64. ^ a b "Office of the House Clerk – Electoral Statistics". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. 
  65. ^ "Election Results". Federal Election Commission. 
  66. ^ "General Election – November 6, 2012 – Official Results".  
  67. ^ Mary Ann Akers. "Member Nuptials". Roll Call. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  68. ^ "Biography". 
  69. ^ "About Nick Rahall – Nick Rahall for U.S. Congress". Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  70. ^ Lavender, Dave (October 29, 2008). "Hillbilly Hot Dogs owners featured in host's cookbook and best of episode". Herald-Dispatch (Huntington, WV). Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  71. ^ "Nick Rahall Jumps From a Plane for Coal. Here’s Why.". Washington Independent. July 20, 2009. 
  72. ^ Goldstein, Katherine (August 20, 2009). "Rep. Nick Rahall Jumps Out Of A Plane For The Coal Lobby". The Huffington Post. 


In July 2009, Rahall jumped out of a plane to show his support for the coal industry. The event was intended to show the importance of the coal industry to both West Virginia and the United States as a whole. The act confused some, who questioned the reasoning behind the jump. It was noted that Rahall is involved with coal lobbyists and also receives contributions from the airline industry.[71][72]

In 2008, Rahall appeared on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives which featured Hillbilly Hot Dogs of Lesage, West Virginia. Rahall introduced the hot dog that's named after him on the menu, Rahall's Red Hot Weenie.[70]

Rahall and his second wife, Melinda Ross of Ashland, Kentucky, married in 2004.[67] They have three children from his previous marriage, and three grandchildren.[5][68][69]

Personal life

West Virginia's 3rd congressional district: Results 1992–2012[64][65][66]
Year Democrat Votes % Republican Votes % Third Party Party Votes %
1992 Nick Rahall 122,279 66% Ben Waldman 64,012 34%
1994 Nick Rahall 74,967 64% Ben Waldman 42,382 36%
1996 Nick Rahall 145,550 100% No candidate
1998 Nick Rahall 78,814 87% No candidate Joe Whelan Libertarian 12,196 13%
2000 Nick Rahall 146,807 91% No candidate Jeff Robinson Libertarian 13,979 9%
2002 Nick Rahall 87,783 70% Paul Chapman 37,229 30%
2004 Nick Rahall 142,682 65% Rick Snuffer 76,170 35%
2006 Nick Rahall 92,413 69% Kim Wolfe 40,820 31%
2008 Nick Rahall 133,522 67% Marty Gearheart 66,005 33%
2010 Nick Rahall 83,636 56% Spike Maynard 65,611 44%
2012 Nick Rahall 108,199 54% Rick Snuffer 92,238 46%
2014 Nick Rahall 62,309 45% Evan Jenkins 77,170 55%
West Virginia's 4th congressional district: Results 1976–90[64]
Year Democrat Votes % Republican Votes % Third Party Party Votes %
1976 Nick Rahall 73,626 46% F. S. Goodman 28,825 18% Ken Hechler Democratic (write-in) 59,067 37%
1978 Nick Rahall 70,035 100% No candidate
1980 Nick Rahall 117,595 77% Winton Covey 36,020 23%
1982 Nick Rahall 91,184 81% Homer Harris 22,054 19%
1984 Nick Rahall 98,919 67% Jess Shumate 49,474 33%
1986 Nick Rahall 58,217 71% Martin Miller 23,490 29%
1988 Nick Rahall 78,812 61% Marianne Brewster 49,753 39%
1990 Nick Rahall 39,948 52% David Morrill 36,946 48%

Electoral history

In 2011, the liberal government watchdog non-profit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) listed Rahall (and six other Democrats, and 12 Republicans) in its annual "Most Corrupt Members of Congress Report".[62][63] Melanie Sloan, CREW's Executive Director, said: "Rep. Rahall abused his position to help his son and sister in clear violation of the House ethics rules." Rahall's spokeswoman said: "There is as little merit to these allegations today as there was then."[62]

In February 2005, Rahall used Congressional stationery to write a letter to a Fairfax County judge, David Stitt, asking for leniency for his son, Nick Rahall III, who was facing felony robbery charges. According to the House ethics manual: “Official stationery ... may be used only for official purposes." Rahall acknowledged that he should not have used Congressional stationery for his letter, but said it was not the same type that he uses for official or committee business. Rahall added he may have drawn the wrong paper "[i]n the emotions", and that he would reimburse the Treasury Department for the cost of the paper.[58][59][60] The United States House Committee on Ethics did not launch an inquiry into the incident.[61]

In 2004, the Los Angeles Times ran an article about Rahall and his sister, lobbyist Tanya Rahall. They reported that she made $15,000 per month as a lobbyist for Qatar, and that "the person she frequently lobbies is ... her older brother and one of Qatar's biggest champions in Washington.” Rahall said “our paths cross professionally, but not across any lines appropriately established by law or House rules.”[17] In May 2003, a year after his sister took on Qatar as a client, Rahall sponsored a resolution praising Qatar's "years of democratic reform"; according to one academic study from 2011, "For over three years, the country [Qatar] virtually had its own congressman in Washington, Nick Rahall (D-WV)".[57]

Ethical issues

In 2008, Rahall endorsed Barack Obama, saying Obama understands the needs and aspirations of West Virginians.[54] Explaining his position, Rahall cited Senator Byrd, who said "I work for no President. I work with Presidents."[55] In an interview with Keith Olbermann, Rahall said that Obama had the courage and conviction to win the presidency, and that the then-senator was a true agent for change.[56]

Endorsement of Barack Obama

In 2004, it was reported that Rahall feared that Syria would be attacked by Bush before the November elections. He said that “They’re using the same rhetoric against the Syrians they used against Iraqis.... We now have the Syrian Accountability Act. All this despite the State Department’s admission that Syria helped us capture key al-Qaeda operatives and helped save American lives.” As for Saudi Arabia, Rahall said that the U.S. “wouldn’t dare” attack that country: “The Kingdom has been a key ally for decades.”[42]

Rahall opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Rahall had traveled to Baghdad just before the Iraq War with the intention of convincing Iraqi leaders to allow the U.N. to inspect Iraq's weapons and have access to every site. He said that Tariq Aziz had accepted all of Bush's demands, and that "Bush said the war was not inevitable, but we now know that wasn’t true. Iraqis did allow for complete access but Bush’s mind was already made up. Iraqis were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t .... We were falsely led into this war.”[42]

Rahall and another Congressman of Arab descent traveled to Syria and ignored State Department policy by meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whom Rahall had known for years.[5] Queen Noor of Jordan presented Rahall with the first Najeeb Halaby Award for public service.[5]

Foreign policy

In 2013, Rahall voted for the Progressive Caucus's budget, which included provisions for a carbon tax. The budget failed to pass.[52][53]

In 2007, Rahall introduced the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which banned incandescent light bulbs. Despite introducing the legislation, Rahall voted against the bill on final passage. As result of the legislation, as of January 1, 2014, incandescent light bulbs between 40 watts and 150 watts are illegal to manufacture or import.

Rahall called the Environmental Protection Agency “callous”, attacked greenhouse gas rule as “disastrous”, and filed legislation to block the president’s climate agenda, but in the summer of 2013 he attended a ceremony to rename the EPA headquarters and has praised EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.[15] Rahall, alongside three other Democrats, supported a GOP bill that would limit EPA authority on CO2 emissions, the Energy Tax Prevention Act. He commented on this, saying: “I am dead set against the E.P.A.’s plowing ahead on its own with new regulations to limit greenhouse gases.”[51] He also voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Rahall believes that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are causing global warming, saying to the Register-Herald that denial of climate change is "to just put your head in the sand."[50]

Environmental issues

Rahall introduced legislation to improve mine safety.[47] Rahall opposed legislation designed to end mountaintop removal mining, a process often used in West Virginia.[48] Rahall's policies involving mountaintop removal mining have been criticized as reflected by author and journalist Jeff Biggers in "The Blog" in The Huffington Post, with the link between mountaintop removal mining and flooding, as well as the billions of pounds of explosives used since 2004, being given as examples.[49]


Rahall was the only member of the House to oppose the 1993 resolution urging Arab states to end their Arab boycott of Israel.[17][45] He also pressed the State Department to end a ban on travel to Lebanon; the ban was lifted in 1997.[17][46]

Rahall, along with other Lebanese-American lawmakers, expressed concern with a bipartisan resolution supporting Israel in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict without adding language urging restraint against civilian targets. He helped draft a resolution that urged "all parties to protect innocent life and civilian infrastructure."[43] Rahall was one of only 8 House members to vote against a resolution supporting Israel's right to defend itself, which was supported by 410 House members.[7][44]

Rahall has expressed concern about America's relationship with Israel. He said, "Israel can’t continue to occupy, humiliate and destroy the dreams and spirits of the Palestinian people and continue to call itself a democratic state."[42]


Political issues

Committee assignments

Having served 19 terms in the House, the 65-year-old Rahall qualified for a Congressional pension of about $139,000 a year.[41]

Rahall lost his bid for re-election to Congress in 2014, losing to West Virginia State Senator Evan Jenkins, with 44.7% of the vote to Jenkins' 55.3% of the vote.[2][39][40]

As of September 18, 2014, the race was rated a "toss up" by both University of Virginia political professor Larry Sabato, of Sabato's Crystal Ball, and Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report.[34] As of October 2, managing editor Kyle Kondik of Sabato's Crystal Ball said the race was still a toss-up, calling it "Super close, super expensive and super nasty."[36][37] The Rahall campaign outspent the Jenkins campaign in the election by a two-to-one ratio.[38]

Rahall was considered one of the most "endangered" House Democrats by the House Democratic campaign committee.[3][4][33] He received an endorsement from the NRA.[34] Rahall was the sole remaining Democrat in West Virginia's three-member delegation to the House of Representatives.[35]

He faced Republican State Senator Evan Jenkins in the November general election.[3] Then-Senator Jenkins had been elected to the legislature as a Democrat, but had switched parties to improve his chances of being elected to Congress. Jenkins and Rahall had contributed to each other's campaigns in the decade's previous election cycles.[32]

In 2014, Rahall faced a primary challenge from fellow Democrat and retired Army officer Richard Ojeda.[30] Rahall won the primary with 66.4% of the vote.[31]


In the 2012 election, Rahall defeated Republican Rick Snuffer with 53.5% of the vote.[28] His eight-point margin of victory was his narrowest since 1990.[29]


In 2010, he defeated Republican former State Supreme Court Justice Spike Maynard with 56% of the vote, his lowest percentage since 1990.[26][27]


In 1990, he defeated Republican insurance agent Marianne Brewster with just 52% of the vote, the second-lowest winning percentage of his career.[24][25] The district was redrawn after the 1990 census, becoming the 3rd district, due to changes to the state's population.

In 1978, Hechler challenged Rahall in the Democratic primary, and Rahall won with 56% of the vote.[21] He was re-elected 17 times.[22] Hechler later became the West Virginia Secretary of State, and ran against Rahall in the primary in 1990. Rahall defeated him, receiving 57% of the vote.[23]

Rahall was elected to Congress in 1976 in the 4th district, succeeding Ken Hechler who ran for governor. Rahall won the district primary with a plurality of 38%.[19] Hechler lost the primary for governor, and attempted a write-in campaign for the congressional seat. Rahall won the general election with 46% of the vote, while Hechler got 37%.[20]

Rahall during his first term in Congress


Rahall was the most senior of five Arab American lawmakers on Capitol Hill.[17][18]

U.S. House of Representatives

He went to work as staff assistant for the late U.S. Senator Robert Byrd who he identifies as a mentor.[15][16]

[14][5] Rahall served as president of the Mountaineer Tour and Travel Agency in 1974, and was president of West Virginia Broadcasting.[13][5] He then worked as a sales rep for his family's radio station, WWNR.[5]

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