Hot Air has had a pretty good – and busy – week in terms of getting to interview some of the candidates vying for office this fall. One such opportunity came when I had the chance to put a few questions to Evan Jenkins, state senator running for West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district. You may remember Evan from some of our stories about his opponent, Nick Rahall. (His rather conveniently shifting views on campaign donations are the stuff of legend.)

Evan had some very strong opinions on the needs of West Virginia’s citizens and shares them below.

Hot Air: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for Hot Air’s readers. West Virginia has a long history of energy production, particularly in the coal industry. New and proposed EPA regulations under the current administration have been viewed as highly detrimental to this industry. How do you view the role of Congress in terms of dealing with these challenges and interacting with the executive branch on such regulatory questions, and how will you personally approach them?

State Senator Evan Jenkins: May I correct your question slightly? These regulations aren’t ‘viewed’ as highly detrimental, they ARE detrimental. This past week over 1,100 miners received WARN act notices at Alpha mines as a direct result of government regulation. Congress plays a role in ensuring these overreaches by the executive branch do not devastate entire industries and regions like this Administration has done. Our current representative in Congress has been an ineffective voice in stopping these actions. I, working with Congressional leadership, will be able to better protect the coal industry from the executive branch.

HA: Despite some recent improvements, West Virginia is still challenged with problems of poverty. Recent studies indicate that some rural sections of your state face a poverty rate in excess of 20%. How do you view the role of the federal government in meeting these challenges versus the responsibilities of the state, and as a congressman, what – if any – federal programs would you be looking at to assist the poorest residents of your state?

EJ: The best way to combat poverty is to ensure everyone who wants to work has the ability to find a job. Too many willing and able bodied men and women can’t find work in the Obama economy. Many West Virginians rely on programs such as Medicare and Social Security and we must do everything we can to protect them and keep our promise to those who have paid into these programs. As a state legislator, I have seen up close the necessary partnership between the federal and state government to provide for our citizens.

HA: As a member of Congress you’ll be voting on perpetually controversial questions of funding on a regular basis. One area experiencing cuts is our military. Given the state of unrest around the globe and America’s role as the last remaining superpower, how do you view the current level of military funding? If called upon to vote on the question, do you feel that military funding should be increased, cut more rapidly than under the current model, or kept on the same arc we’ve settled on now?

EJ: Keeping our military strong is the central role of the federal government. Although I support funding levels that maintain America as the world’s pre-eminent military power we must spend our money wisely and not waste critical resources. West Virginians have served in our military at a rate proportionally higher than any other state. As such, we must not only support and fund our military, but must support and care for our veterans.

HA: If you were already in Congress, you would have been facing the question of whether or not to fund the President’s recent request for more money to deal with the crisis at our southern border. Would you have voted to approve that funding request as it was presented? And if not, how should congress be applying our resources to this situation?

EJ: The crisis on the southern border is another example of failed leadership on the part of the Obama Administration. We must secure our borders now, and do everything we can to prevent President Obama sidestepping Congress to implement his unconstitutional plans to implement amnesty-by-fiat.

HA: If elected, current polls indicate that you’ll be entering the House as part of a significant Republican majority. But a lot of media attention has focused on divisions in the party. How would you rate the job that John Boehner has been doing, and would you be inclined to support him if he seeks another term as Speaker?

EJ: Throughout my career, I have developed a reputation of being an independent thinker in the legislature. After earning the people’s vote to represent them in Congress, I will closely evaluates all candidates for leadership to determine who will best help me advance my constituents’ interests and values.

HA: Thanks again for taking time out of your schedule for this interview. In closing, what issues do you see as most directly affecting West Virginia and which of them will you be focusing on in the closing months of the campaign?

EJ: It is worth conveying again the importance of protecting the coal industry for southern West Virginia. The layoffs and downturn in the coal industry have a ripple effect on almost everyone in the Third Congressional District. We can’t stress this enough, and wherever I go during this campaign, and hopefully in Congress, there will be no issue of more importance to me.