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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Mollohan Defeated

So, just three days after Utah’s long-time Republican Sen. Bob Bennett was denied re-nomination, long-time Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia suffered the same fate, though in his case it was in a primary where he received only 44% of the vote against 56% for state senator Mike Oliverio. Mollohan had been in office for 28 years after succeeding his father, who held the seat for fourteen years before that. Now that’s some serious incumbency!
While it’s natural to link the Bennett and Mollohan defeats to a similar anti-incumbency trend, that’s a bit misleading. Bennett’s problems were clearly ideological in nature. Mollohan’s biggest problem was ethics; he’s been the subject of multiple investigations of conflict-of-interest allegations in his role as an Appropriations subcommittee chairman, and Oliverio’s campaign called him “one of the most corrupt members of Congress.”
With Republicans considering Mollohan an especially ripe target, it’s possible that Oliverio’s win will make the seat an slightly easier hold for Democrats.

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