The Associated Press October 18, 2010, 10:01AM ET

W.Va.'s US House hopefuls raise $1.7M, spend $2.6M

West Virginia's U.S. House candidates spent $2.6 million during the last three months, with the energy sector, health professionals and financial interests among the key contributors.

Massey Energy Co. and its business associates helped the GOP's Elliott "Spike" Maynard outraise Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall in the 3rd District, giving around $100,000 during the quarter. But Rahall entered the race's final month with three times as much cash on hand as Maynard, even after spending $1.1 million.

Democrat Mike Oliverio attracted more contributions than Republican David McKinley in the 1st District. But McKinley loaned his campaign another $150,000, and began October with a balance twice as large as Oliverio's.

GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito has a massive cash advantage over her 2nd District foe, with $638,000 compared to the $4,411 of Democratic newcomer Virginia Lynch Graf.

Maynard raised the most of any state U.S. House candidate during the three-month period, $389,887 to Rahall's $247,196. Besides officials from the Virginia-based coal producer and their spouses, Maynard's Massey-related donors include Powell Construction of Johnson City, Tenn., and the Charleston law firm of Spilman, Thomas & Battle.

Massey Chief Executive Don Blankenship is a major supporter of Maynard's campaign. Their longtime friendship played a role in the conflict-of-interest allegations that preceded Maynard's 2008 defeat when he ran for re-election to the state Supreme Court.

The two were photographed together sharing drinks and socializing in Monaco, at a time when Massey had appeals before Maynard's court. Rahall has sought to invoke the incident in the House campaign.

Maynard also received $30,000 from GOP leadership and lawmaker political action committees, $23,150 from Jackson Kelly law firm members and $4,500 from International Coal Group executives.

Rahall's donors include construction-related interests that gave $31,000, and labor unions that provided $26,500. He also gathered around $20,000 each from health professionals, transportation interests, law or lobbyist firms, and Democratic leadership or lawmaker PACs. Native American tribes and Middle Eastern-related interest groups each gave around $10,000.

Rahall sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. But while he received around $10,000 from the energy sector, little of that came from coal. With the district covering the southern coalfields, mining has been a big issue in the race. The industry opposes the Obama administration's handling of mining-related permits.

Rahall's spending in the quarter nearly equaled all the state's other U.S. House candidates combined. His almost entirely paid for TV advertising, and went mostly to Media Strategies and Research of Fairfax, Va. Of the $291,641 reported spent by Maynard, around $130,000 paid TV stations for airtime. Beyond $5,226 to Prime Media Productions of Smithfield, Va., money spent on making the campaign's ads was not immediately apparent in the Federal Election Filing.

But that report does show the campaign refunded $60,000 to donors who gave more than the per-election limit for federal races. Nearly all of that money had come from the Massey-related, Tennessee-based contributors. Maynard had $212,755 as of Sept. 30, while Rahall had $682,840. Since the quarterly filing period, the Democrat has received more than $13,000 in last-minute donations, mostly from labor union PACs.

In the 1st District race, Oliverio raised $360,587. A state senator from Morgantown, Oliverio defeated incumbent Rep. Alan Mollohan in May's Democratic primary. A life insurance agent, he attracted around $30,000 from that area as well as such other financial interests as banks.

Another $56,000 or so came to Oliverio from physicians and other health professionals. Donors from the energy sector, including coal, oil and natural gas, gave around $35,000. Democratic PACs, including those for both U.S. House members and fellow state legislators, provided around $25,000. Oliverio has also reported receiving $6,600 since the quarterly filing period.

Contributors gave $270,232 to McKinley, a former lawmaker and state GOP chairman. Around $47,500 of that came from GOP leadership and lawmaker PACs. Health professionals gave around $21,000, while construction interests gave around $17,000 and the energy sector, $16,000.

McKinley's campaign said it did not know the employer or occupation of contributors who gave $51,550 during the filing period, or 20 percent of his total.

Self-funding his campaign so far to the tune of $720,000, McKinley loaned $150,000 of that last month to boost his quarterly receipts to $420,232. After spending $433,130, his campaign had a $293,931 balance while Oliverio's campaign had $113,640 after devoting $550,327 to its efforts.

Oliverio spent $330,000 with Abar Hutton Media of Alexandria, Va., and $50,050 on the in-state firm managing his campaign, Orion Strategies.

McKinley's spending included $230,973 to Strategic Media Services of Washington, D.C., for ads and $28,000 to Targeted Communication Strategies. That Charleston firm is run by Greg Thomas, perhaps best known as the chief political strategist for Massey's Blankenship during prior election cycles.

Facing a severely underfunded opponent, Capito raised $322,563 and spent just $89,843 on her re-election bid. She gave another $166,000 to GOP candidates and causes, including $150,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee and $5,000 to the state GOP.

Overall, West Virginia's three U.S. House races together saw $7.5 million in receipts and $7 million in spending between the beginning of the election cycle and Sept. 30. About $2 million of the amount amassed and spent reflects candidates who lost the May party primaries.

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Lawrence Messina covers the statehouse for The Associated Press.


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