CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Sen. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, isn't ruling out switching parties and running against Rep. Nick Rahall, DW. Va.
Jenkins acknowledged there have been rumors he plans to challenge the longtime congressman. He said such speculation the summer before an election year is common.
"No decision has been made on what I may or may not do," Jenkins said in a Friday interview. "So it's probably best to not rule anything in or out, and make a decision and announce that decision on what and how I feel I can be . . . of greatest service," he said.
Jenkins, 54, represents Cabell County and part of Wayne County as one of two senators for the fifth senatorial district. An attorney, he did say he's been encouraged to consider seeking a judgeship that could open soon in Cabell.
He didn't say if he had spoken with anyone about any particular position but pointed out there are people from both parties who try to recruit candidates.
Jenkins said he's been outspoken about what's happening in Washington, so it's "understandable" that he might have come up on people's radar for other positions.
"At this point, I really don't want to think out loud about where best I would be of service," Jenkins said.
"There are several options out there, and I'm giving some thought to how best to be of service."
He said he'll let people know about any future plans sooner rather than later.
"I've never been one to play political games, and I'm always up front and straightforward," Jenkins said. "I certainly will do that with my political interests."
The senator has contemplated switching parties to mount a congressional run for some time, said several different sources who asked to remain nameless because they were not authorized to speak on the topic.Republicans at the state and national level are chomping at the bit to find a challenger for Rahall, who has represented the third congressional district in Southern West Virginia since 1977.
West Virginia Democrat Party Chairman Larry Puccio issued a statement Friday that doesn't mention Jenkins by name but does reference the idea of GOP poaching.
"It is our understanding that the Republican Party is currently either unable or unwilling to find viable candidates from within their own party who share their beliefs," Puccio said in the emailed statement.
"As such, they are now attempting to recruit candidates from the Democratic Party, trying to turn them into opportunists.
"As Chairman, I remain focused on recruiting strong candidates from within the Democratic Party who will defend the interests of children and working families across West Virginia," the statement continued.