Republicans, eager to find a credible candidate to run against longtime incumbent Democrat Nick Rahall in the 3rd congressional District in 2014, are lobbying Democratic state Sen. Evan Jenkins to switch parties and join the race.
Jenkins has represented the 5th district - Cabell County and a portion of Wayne County - in the state Senate since 2002, and before that he served three terms in the House of Delegates.
He is up for re-election in 2014 and is clearly keeping his options open, even if that means returning to the Republican Party, to which he belonged briefly after he graduated from law school.
"I've been recruited to seek a judgeship, to run for re-election, and I've been contacted by folks across the political spectrum about what I may or may not run for," Jenkins said cryptically, careful to keep the congressional option open.
The national Republican Party has targeted Rahall for defeat in 2014, but has so far had no luck in landing a viable candidate. The best hope to date, Republican state Sen. Bill Cole, decided against it.
Republican strategists say Jenkins would be a formidable candidate, despite the difficulty that goes along with switching parties.
They believe Jenkins could justify the move because of the current Democratic leadership in Washington.
President Obama is unpopular in West Virginia, and the Obama administration's hostility toward the coal industry has made it difficult for moderate Democrats here, particularly in the southern West Virginia coalfields.
In the last election, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin both distanced themselves from Obama.
Jenkins leans conservative and pro-business, making him more closely aligned with the GOP than the Democratic Party at the federal level.