Scandal-tainted Democratic Rep. Mollohan out in primary loss

Advocates for clean government may cheer.  Democrats may breathe a sigh of relief.  Republicans may have a tougher time in November winning the seat in West Virginia.  Everyone can agree, however, that the ousting of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) in the Democratic primary represents a victory for the cleansing nature of representative government:

A West Virginia congressional seat that’s been held by a Democrat for generations is now up for grabs after 14-term incumbent Rep. Alan Mollohan was swept out of office on a wave of voter unrest that an opponent called a referendum on President Barack Obama.

The congressman is the first U.S. House incumbent to be ousted this spring primary season amid widespread anti-incumbent sentiment. The same unrest helped end the 17-year career of Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, who lost a GOP convention on Saturday.

State Sen. Michael Oliverio carried 56 percent of the vote to Mollohan’s 44 percent Tuesday night after an aggressive campaign that questioned the incumbent’s ethics and support for issues including federal health care reform.

It didn’t question Mollohan’s ethics.  The primary fight exposed his lack of same.  Mollohan has long been under investigation by federal law enforcement for corruption.  The House Ethics Committee recently acknowledged that they had an open probe into his actions as well — until the Justice Department asked them to shut it down to keep it from interfering with their own case-building.

That’s not the only reason Mollohan lost, however.  The people of West Virginia depend on coal for their economy, and Mollohan has betrayed them repeatedly over the last year.  He has played along with Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama as they have attempted to shut down the coal industry by legislation (cap and trade) and regulation (EPA).

The nomination of Oliverio gives Democrats a chance to escape Mollohan’s corruption and attacks on coal, and that may not be good news for Republicans.  It would have been easier to run against Mollohan for all the reasons he lost in the primary.  The GOP would have painted him as a patsy for Pelosi and a thoroughly corrupt politician who spent more time concerned about his own fortunes than that of West Virginians.  Now, Republicans will have to make the case against Oliverio that a Democratic vote enables Pelosi regardless of Oliverio’s stated policy decisions, which means more cap-and-trade and more attacks on coal despite anything Oliverio says or believes.  That would be accurate,  but it isn’t as emotionally impactful as corruption by an entrenched incumbent.  On the other hand, beating an incumbent presents its own difficulties, so it could wind up being a wash.

Wash describes well what happened in this district last night regardless of what happens in the general election.  West Virginia cleaned up government, one seat at a time, and that’s good news in and of itself.

The Boss Emeritus says DLTDHYOTWO.