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WV GOP welcomes Sen. Evan Jenkins to the party and US Congress run

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The West Virginia Republican Party welcomed a new, high-profile member and candidate July 31.

Sen. Evan Jenkins switched his party registration after serving as a Democrat in the West Virginia Legislature since 1994.

Jenkins announced he would run for the House of Representatives in the next election cycle.

West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas issued a statement saying the party proudly welcomed Jenkins.

"Senator Jenkins is the finest example of an elected official who sees that West Virginia's future must take precedence over the parties of the past," Lucas said in the statement.

Jenkins announced he would run for Congress, and Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer, would serve as campaign chairman.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., was first elected in 1976, and currently is serving in his 18th term in the House of Representatives. He received about 53 percent of the vote against Republican Rick Snuffer in the Nov. 6, 2012 General Election. In 2010, former Democratic Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard switched his party affiliation and ran against Rahall, coming within 18,000 votes of Rahall.

Snuffer, a former Republican member of the House of Delegates, announced July 31 he congratulated Jenkins for changing his party affiliation, but Snuffer said he was confident if he entered the race he would win.

"Given the difference between Evan's legislative voting record and mine; plus the large lead I have in the internal polls which Washington conducted between the two of us in a primary contest, our team is confident should we enter the race next year, we will be more than competitive," Snuffer said.

West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio also issued a statement July 31, saying it was clear Jenkins "is only loyal to the dollar."

"When Washington Republican money came a knockin', Jenkins went a walkin'," Puccio said in his statement. "Evan Jenkins has enjoyed the good favor of Congressman Rahall, taking advantage of endorsements, photo ops, and every other chance to hitch his wagon to Nick Rahall's star."