A 14-term House member, Mr. Mollohan seemed as secure as any congressman in America less than two years ago, when he ran unopposed for reelection. But Mollohan has been dogged by charges of unethical behavior related to housing investments for several years. Despite consistent delivery of federal dollars to the First Congressional District, Mollohan’s performance in Congress, including his support for health-care reform, also began to disappoint his conservative constituents.
Those factors set the stage for a primary challenge – from the right – by conservative state Sen. Mike Oliverio (D). Mr. Oliverio, who takes typically Republican stances on social issues, has famously refused to commit to supporting Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House if he were to win Mollohan’s seat. Oliverio came one step closer to Congress on May 11, when he defeated Mollohan by an eight-point margin in the Democratic primary.