But as is the case with primary elections, a welter of local and national factors played a role.
West Virginia's first congressional district includes a large contingent of pro-life Democrats who felt betrayed by the health care vote.
Mollohan dawdled on cap-and-trade, waiting until just about the last moment to come out against the Waxman-Markey climate change bill. This is West Virginia's mine country, and his delay in defending his district's interests cost him.
Then there's ethics. Mollohan has faced his share of charges over the years, although he's never been found guilty of anything. Oliverio called Mollohan "corrupt" in a television advertisement.
Anti-Washington, anti-Incumbent sentiment is prevalent among Democrats, too. Mollohan has been in Congress for 28 years. Note than 32% of Democrats in Nick Rahall's West Virginia district voted against the incumbent, too.
Finally, as a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee official said last night, Mollohan did not appreciate the magnitude of his re-election challenge until a month ago, a bit too late to do much.
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