Jenkins is the executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association. Born in Huntington, he graduated from the University of Florida and the Cumberland School of Law.
In the Senate, he is chairman of the Pension Committee and vice chairman of the Health and Human Resources Committee. He also serves on the judiciary; energy, industry and mining; banking and insurance; government organizations; and military committees.
He first joined the Legislature in 1994 as a delegate. He eventually chaired the House Pension Committee, serving in the House until 2000. In 2000, Jenkins made an unsuccessful bid for the state Supreme Court, coming in fourth out of four candidates in the Democratic primary.
In 2002, he successfully defeated Republican challenger Tom Scott for his current seat. In 2010, he faced challengers only in the primary.
Jenkins received more than twice the votes of his closest Democrat challenger and more than two-thirds of all votes cast in the primary, according to data on the secretary of state's website.
During his campaigns, Jenkins was considered a conservative Democrat and consistently received support from the business community. In his first race for state Senate, labor groups favored his opponent while business backed Jenkins, a switch from typical expectations for Democrat and Republican candidates.
He's a favorite of the state Chamber of Commerce, where he once worked as an attorney, according to Daily Mail archives.
The National Republican Congressional Committee announced earlier this year that Rahall is one of seven Democrat House members they're trying desperately to oust. One potential candidate creating some buzz, successful car salesman and state Sen. Bill Cole of Mercer County, recently said he would not run.
This would be the second time in the last three election cycles where a long-time Democrat jumps to the GOP to battle Rahall. In 2010, former Supreme Court justice Elliot "Spike" Maynard hopped the political fence and defeated Republican state Delegate Marty Gearheart of Mercer County to win the nomination.
Rahall beat Maynard, earning 56 percent of the vote.
Jenkins' potential decision to switch parties creates an interesting situation in the Senate.
His current four-year term is up in 2014. However, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is bound by law to appoint a Republican to replace him, should Jenkins switch parties before then and leave the Senate to focus on his campaign.
Jenkins has not yet filed for re-election. No one else has filed in that race, either.