McKinley counts heavily on Wood County. It has provided big margins for him in his two congressional races.
In 2012, he received more votes in Wood County - 20,406 - than in any of the other 19 counties in the district.
These numbers are intriguing, and they tempt Gainer, who is having trouble deciding whether to run.
Gainer is in the middle of his term, which means he could run for the congressional seat next year and still have a job if he lost.
But Gainer, like every politician who does not have personal wealth, worries about the money.
According to the latest Federal Election Commission report (March 2013), McKinley had $1,005,617 in his campaign fund. No doubt he's continuing to raise money, an easier proposition for a sitting congressman than it is for a challenger.
Gainer would have to begin a campaign by spending every night and weekend dialing for dollars, a daunting prospect.
Yes, the national party may be willing to help, but it wants to see candidates raise their own money first.
If the long-time auditor is unwilling to make that commitment, the election results from 2012 that show a remarkable similarity in the level of support each has among 1st District voters will remain only an interesting bit of trivia, rather than the basis for a spirited campaign.
And Gainer's lifelong ambition of reaching Washington will remain unfulfilled.
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.