National Republicans wasted no time in embracing Jenkins into their party and onto their ballots. Many praised Jenkins and slammed Rahall.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., all took to Twitter to praise and welcome Jenkins.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also sent out a statement applauding Jenkins' decision.
West Virginia Democrats pointed to the national Republican attention as proof Jenkins' jump over the political fence is opportunistic and based on the promise of financial support.
"After years of supporting Congressman Rahall, it is clear Evan Jenkins is loyal only to the dollar," said state Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio in a prepared statement.
"When Washington Republican money came a knockin', Jenkins went a walkin'."
The National Republican Congressional Committee has been open about money it's spending on advertisements attacking Rahall. It's also labeled him as one of their top targets nationwide for the 2014 election.
Rahall said he knows he's a target, and he's seen Republican tactics before. He's quick to say he agreed with President George W. Bush as much or more than he does with Obama, and he's made several recent critical statements of Obama's climate policy.
But Rahall said he expects the party to continue to try to pin any problems on himself and the president.
"If it's raining in West Virginia today, it's Obama-Rahall's fault," Rahall joked.
Rahall thinks residents in his district know him and approve of the job he's done, but he still plans an aggressive campaign.
"I've always lived by the motto of my late mentor, Senator Byrd, who said, 'You always run unopposed or scared,'" Rahall said. "I don't think I've ever run unopposed."
Jenkins considers himself a household name in the Huntington area, so he plans to spend the next few weeks on the road, meeting people in other areas of the district. He needs to introduce himself to Republicans all over the district, Lucas said.
Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer, will help Jenkins as his campaign chairman. Cole was recruited by national Republicans as a possible candidate in the field but declined. On Tuesday, he said Jenkins is the right person for the job, and he'll help him spread his message in the district.
Although elections don't start until 2014, Jenkins' decision to switch parties has an immediate impact in the Senate. He represents the 10th Republican in the 34-seat chamber. Puccio said it would have little to no impact, but Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall, R-Putnam, thought it could make a difference with Senate Democrats.
"I'm already thinking about the fact that Evan has always been a very strong conservative. And there are other Democrats that are too," Hall said. "I'll just be interested to see if this changes them or whatever."
Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, stripped Jenkins of his two committee chairmanships Tuesday night, citing rumors of Jenkins' switch and run. On Wednesday, Kessler said he called Jenkins Tuesday night before stripping him of his leadership positions.
"I'm disappointed he would abandon ship, but that's his call and his decision." Kessler said. "It's unfortunate he's turned his back on most of his colleagues and his constituents."
Delegate Kevin Craig, D-Cabell, filed pre-candidacy papers Tuesday for the fifth senatorial district, which Jenkins currently represents.
Jenkins said he plans to remain in the Senate during his campaign.