Nicholas Joseph Rahall II (born May 20, 1949) is an American former politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as a U.S. Representative from West Virginia from 1977 to 2015. He is the longest-serving member ever of the United States House of Representatives from the state of West Virginia.
|Ranking Member of the House Transportation Committee|
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||John Mica|
|Succeeded by||Peter DeFazio|
|Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||Richard Pombo|
|Succeeded by||Doc Hastings|
|Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee|
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||George Miller|
|Succeeded by||Don Young|
|Member of the |
U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Ken Hechler|
|Succeeded by||Evan Jenkins|
|Constituency||4th district (1977–1993)|
3rd district (1993–2015)
Nicholas Joseph Rahall II
May 20, 1949
Beckley, West Virginia, U.S.
|Spouse||Melinda Rahall (Second wife)|
|Education||Duke University (BA)|
George Washington University
From 1977 to 1993, he served the now-defunct 4th congressional district. From 1993 to 2015, he served the 3rd congressional district. His district included the southern, coal-dominated portion of the state, including Huntington, Bluefield, and Beckley. Rahall was the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Rahall lost a bid for re-election to Congress in 2014, to West Virginia State Senator Evan Jenkins. As of 2022[update], he is the last Democrat to have represented West Virginia in the House of Representatives.
Early life, education, and early careerEdit
Rahall was born in Beckley, West Virginia, the son of Mary Alice and Nicholas Joseph Rahall. He is a Presbyterian of Lebanese-Protestant descent, whose grandparents immigrated from Lebanon.
Rahall graduated in 1971 from Duke University. He attended graduate school at the George Washington University, but did not graduate. He then worked as a sales rep for his family's radio station, WWNR. He served as president of the Mountaineer Tour and Travel Agency in 1974, and was president of West Virginia Broadcasting.
U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit
Rahall was elected to Congress in 1976 in the 4th district, succeeding Ken Hechler who ran for governor. Rahall won the district primary with a plurality of 38%. Hechler lost the primary for governor, and attempted a write-in campaign for the congressional seat. Rahall won the general election with 46% of the vote, while Hechler got 37%.
In 1978, Hechler challenged Rahall in the Democratic primary, and Rahall won with 56% of the vote. He was re-elected 17 times. Hechler later became the West Virginia Secretary of State, and ran against Rahall in the primary in 1990. Rahall defeated him, receiving 57% of the vote.
In 1990, he defeated Republican insurance agent Marianne Brewster with just 52% of the vote, the second-lowest winning percentage of his career. The district was redrawn after the 1990 census, becoming the 3rd district, due to changes to the state's population.
He faced Republican State Senator Evan Jenkins in the November general election. Jenkins had served in the state legislature for 20 years as a Democrat, but had switched parties. Jenkins and Rahall had contributed to each other's campaigns in the decade's previous election cycles.
As of September 18, 2014, the race was rated a "toss up" by both University of Virginia political professor Larry Sabato, of Sabato's Crystal Ball, and Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report. As of October 2, managing editor Kyle Kondik of Sabato's Crystal Ball said the race was still a toss-up, calling it "Super close, super expensive and super nasty." The Rahall campaign outspent the Jenkins campaign in the election by a two-to-one ratio.
Rahall's policies involving mountaintop removal mining have been criticized as reflected by author and journalist Jeff Biggers in "The Blog" in The Huffington Post, with the link between mountaintop removal mining and flooding, as well as the billions of pounds of explosives used since 2004, being given as examples.
Rahall called the Environmental Protection Agency "callous", attacked Barack Obama's greenhouse gas rule as "disastrous", and filed legislation to block the president's climate agenda, but in the summer of 2013 he attended a ceremony to rename the EPA headquarters and has praised EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Rahall, alongside three other Democrats, supported a GOP bill that would limit EPA authority on CO2 emissions, the Energy Tax Prevention Act. He commented on this, saying: "I am dead set against the E.P.A.'s plowing ahead on its own with new regulations to limit greenhouse gases." He also voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
In 2007, Rahall introduced the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which banned incandescent light bulbs. Despite introducing the legislation, Rahall voted against the bill on final passage. As a result of the legislation, as of January 1, 2014, incandescent light bulbs between 40 watts and 150 watts are illegal to manufacture or import.
Rahall and another Congressman of Arab descent traveled to Syria and ignored State Department policy by meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whom Rahall had known for years. Queen Noor of Jordan presented Rahall with the first Najeeb Halaby Award for public service.
Rahall opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Rahall had traveled to Baghdad just before the Iraq War with the intention of convincing Iraqi leaders to allow the U.N. to inspect Iraq's weapons and have access to every site. He said that Tariq Aziz had accepted all of Bush's demands, and that "Bush said the war was not inevitable, but we now know that wasn't true. Iraqis did allow for complete access but Bush's mind was already made up. Iraqis were damned if they did and damned if they didn't .... We were falsely led into this war."
In 2004, it was reported that Rahall feared that Syria would be attacked by Bush before the November elections. He said that "They're using the same rhetoric against the Syrians they used against Iraqis.... We now have the Syrian Accountability Act. All this despite the State Department's admission that Syria helped us capture key al-Qaeda operatives and helped save American lives." As for Saudi Arabia, Rahall said that the U.S. "wouldn't dare" attack that country: "The Kingdom has been a key ally for decades."
Rahall has expressed concern about America's relationship with Israel. He said, "Israel can't continue to occupy, humiliate and destroy the dreams and spirits of the Palestinian people and continue to call itself a democratic state."
Rahall, along with other Lebanese-American lawmakers, expressed concern with a bipartisan resolution supporting Israel in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict without adding language urging restraint against civilian targets. He helped draft a resolution that urged "all parties to protect innocent life and civilian infrastructure."
Endorsement of Barack ObamaEdit
In 2008, Rahall endorsed Barack Obama, saying Obama understands the needs and aspirations of West Virginians. He was also Chair of the Arab Americans for Obama group. Explaining his position, Rahall cited Senator Byrd, who said "I work for no President. I work with Presidents." In an interview with Keith Olbermann, Rahall said that Obama had the courage and conviction to win the presidency, and that the then-senator was a true agent for change.
In 2004, the Los Angeles Times ran an article about Rahall and his sister, lobbyist Tanya Rahall. They reported that she made $15,000 per month as a lobbyist for Qatar, and that "the person she frequently lobbies is ... her older brother and one of Qatar's biggest champions in Washington." Rahall said "our paths cross professionally, but not across any lines appropriately established by law or House rules." In May 2003, a year after his sister took on Qatar as a client, Rahall sponsored a resolution praising Qatar's "years of democratic reform"; according to one academic study from 2011, "For over three years, the country [Qatar] virtually had its own congressman in Washington, Nick Rahall (D-WV)".
In February 2005, Rahall used Congressional stationery to write a letter to a Fairfax County judge, David Stitt, asking for leniency for his son, Nick Rahall III, who was facing felony robbery charges. According to the House ethics manual: "Official stationery ... may be used only for official purposes." Rahall acknowledged that he should not have used Congressional stationery for his letter, but said it was not the same type that he uses for official or committee business. Rahall added he may have drawn the wrong paper "[i]n the emotions", and that he would reimburse the Treasury Department for the cost of the paper. The United States House Committee on Ethics did not launch an inquiry into the incident.
Rahall was one of seven Democrats and twelve Republicans listed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in its annual "Most Corrupt Members of Congress Report" in 2011. Melanie Sloan, CREW's Executive Director, said: "Rep. Rahall abused his position to help his son and sister in clear violation of the House ethics rules." Rahall's spokeswoman said: "There is as little merit to these allegations today as there was then."
In 2008, Rahall appeared on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives which featured Hillbilly Hot Dogs of Lesage, West Virginia. Rahall introduced the hot dog that's named after him on the menu, Rahall's Red Hot Weenie.
In July 2009, Rahall jumped out of a plane to show his support for the coal industry. The event was intended to show the importance of the coal industry to both West Virginia and the United States as a whole. The act confused some, who questioned the reasoning behind the jump. It was noted that Rahall is involved with coal lobbyists and also receives contributions from the airline industry.
After leaving office, he became involved in political reform efforts, including joining nine other former members of Congress to co-author a 2021 opinion editorial advocating reforms of Congress.
- Nathan L. Gonzales (January 15, 2013). "West Virginia Senate: Democrats Look for Winner". The Rothenberg Political Report. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Timothy Cama. "Dem Rahall loses House seat after 38 years". The Hill.
- "Mooney wins crowded GOP House primary; Capito, Tennant to face off in W.Va. Senate race". Fox News. May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- Kyle Balluck (April 6, 2014). "Report: Rep. Nick Rahall considered retirement". The Hill. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "Election 2012; Nick Rahall (D); U.S. Representative – WV3". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "Page 1". April 23, 1996.
- "House Passes Resolution Backing Israel". PBS NewsHour. July 20, 2006. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Melissa McNamara (July 20, 2006). "House Passes Pro-Israel Resolution". CBS News. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Kristina Peterson (August 8, 2013). "Some Democrats Waver on Immigration". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Bernarnd Weinraub (June 18, 1982). "HOUSE PANEL APPROVES $20 MILLION TO LEBANON". The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Mannix Porterfield. "Former W.Va. governor Hulett Smith passes at 93". Register Herald. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "WWNR". Beckley Post-Herald; The Raleigh Register from Beckley, West Virginia. November 14, 1971. p. 26. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "Nick Rahall for The United States House of Representatives WV3". Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "Congressional Directory for the 113th Congress (2013–14), February 2014". U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 289–90. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Martinson, Erica (June 26, 2014). "Coal fires up West Virginia House race". Politico.
- Huber, Tim (October 26, 2010). "Rahall, Maynard spar in debate". Herald Dispatch.
- "WV District 4 – D Primary Race – May 11, 1976". Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "WV District 4 Race". Our Campaigns. November 2, 1976. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "WV District 4 – D Primary Race". Our Campaigns. May 9, 1978. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "Candidate – Nick Joe Rahall II". Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "WV District 4 – D Primary Race". Our Campaigns. May 8, 1990. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "Final election results: Pennsylvania through Wyoming (including U.S. territories)". USA TODAY. November 8, 1990.
- "WV District 4 Race – Nov 6, 1990". Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Workman, Jim (November 3, 2010). "Rahall is elected to 18th straight term in Congress". The Register-Herald. Beckley, WV. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
- Joshua Miller (October 18, 2011). "Snuffer Moves Toward Bid for Rahall Seat". Roll Call. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "West Virginia Congressional District 3 election results". Decision 2012. NBC News. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- Justin Sink (January 18, 2014). "Manchin's State of Union guest to challenge Rep. Nick Rahall". The Hill. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "Mooney wins crowded GOP House primary; Capito, Tennant to face off in W.Va. Senate race". Fox News. May 13, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Jim Workman (May 13, 2014). "Rahall, Jenkins set to face off in 3rd District Congressional Race". West Virginia Illustrated. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Boucher, Dave (July 30, 2013). "Nick Rahall, Evan Jenkins contributed to each other's campaigns". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Abby Livingston (July 9, 2014). "Nick Rahall Bets Political Survival on Local Brand". At the Races; Roll Call. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- "NRA endorses Nick Rahall for Congress". Charleston Daily Mail. September 18, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- "Looking into the Crystal Ball". West Virginia Metro News. October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- "House Ratings". The Rothenberg Political Report. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- ABC News. "Republicans Projected To Seize Control Of The Senate: 2014 Midterm Elections Results Live". ABC News.
- Timothy Cama. "Dem Rahall loses House seat after 38 years". TheHill.
- "West Virginia Election Results".
- Isidore, Chris (November 6, 2014). "Fat pensions for outgoing lawmakers". CNNMoney. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
- Hananel, Sam. "Congress proposes mine bill to crack down on repeat violators". The Register-Herald. Associated Press.
- Lillis, Mike (October 17, 2010). "Rahall takes sole credit for blocking bill to end mountaintop mining". The Hill. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
- Biggers, Jeff (July 10, 2009). "Should Wilderness Society Strip US Rep. Nick Rahall of the Ansel Adams Award?". The Huffington Post.
- "U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE CONVERSATIONS — Nick Rahall". Register Herald. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
- "Dems join GOP in fight to block EPA climate rules". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Boucher, David (September 3, 2013). "Rahall to officially start re-election bid". Charleston Daily Mail. Archived from the original on May 23, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- Kercheval, Hoppy (January 5, 2013). "Rahall vote gives opponents ammo". West Virginia Metro News. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- Hanley, Delinda (June 2004). "Congressman Nick Rahall Assesses Impact Of Iraq and Israel on U.S. Elections". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. pp. 29, 59. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- Weisman, Jonathan (July 26, 2006). "Congress Cautioned On Support of Israel". Washington Post. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
- Neubauer, Chuck (June 17, 2004). "A Sibling Symbiosis in the Capitol; A lobbyist for Qatar is sister to a congressman who is a key advocate for the Arab monarchy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Sarah Stern (2011). Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West's Fatal Embrace. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230370715. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Kaplan, Rebecca (July 24, 2013). "For Rahall, Representation Means Fighting for Resources". National Journal. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- "Rahall endorses Barack Obama". The Herald Dispatch. March 6, 2008. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- "CSPAN Today in Washington". CSPAN. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
- MSNBC[dead link] http://video.msnbc.msn.com/msnbc/24604032#24604032[permanent dead link]
- Shiderer, Kyle; Weinglass, Ilan (November 3, 2011). "The Saudi Penetration into American NGOs". In Stern, Sarah (ed.). Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network. Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 81–104. ISBN 9780230370715. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- John Bresnahan. "Questions raised about Nick Rahall helping son". Politico. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
- "Democrat Nick Rahall misused official stationery". Associated Press. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
- "Rahall Admits to Using Congressional Stationary to ask Judge for Favor". WSAZ News Channel 3. August 12, 2010. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Pergram, Chad (August 12, 2010). "Second Congressman allegedly misuses stationary". Fox News. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
- Jared Hunt (September 21, 2011). "Rahall on list of most corrupt Congresspeople". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- "Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) Named One of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress". 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- "Office of the House Clerk – Electoral Statistics". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
- "Election Results". Federal Election Commission.
- "General Election – November 6, 2012 – Official Results". Secretary of State of West Virginia. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
- Mary Ann Akers. "Member Nuptials". Roll Call. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "Biography". rahall.house.gov. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "About Nick Rahall – Nick Rahall for U.S. Congress". nickrahall.com. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Lavender, Dave (October 29, 2008). "Hillbilly Hot Dogs owners featured in host's cookbook and best of episode". Herald-Dispatch (Huntington, WV). Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- "Nick Rahall Jumps From a Plane for Coal. Here's Why". Washington Independent. July 20, 2009. Archived from the original on August 28, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Goldstein, Katherine (August 20, 2009). "Rep. Nick Rahall Jumps Out Of A Plane For The Coal Lobby". The Huffington Post.
- "We Know Congress Needs Reform". West Virginia Gazette.