Since 1982, Alan Mollohan has represented West Virginian's 1st Congressional District, which is an area that includes north-central West Virginia, the northern panhandle and parts of the eastern mountains.
Mollohan is a Fairmont native.
He's currently a member of the House Appropriations Committee and is chairman of the House Sub-Committee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.
“We have worked to faithfully represent the best interests of our constituency through all of those years,” he said.
“Anybody representing West Virginia today in any seat needs to be aggressively promoting and diversifying our economy.”
Mollohan has rarely faced a challenger from within the Democratic Party. But this year is different.
Mike Oliverio is a former state senator from Monongalia County, and is running for the Democratic nomination.
“I became extremely frustrated with what I was seeing occurring in Washington, in particular the fiscal irresponsibility,” Oliverio said.
“Running up enormous deficits and obligating tax payers to things we simply couldn’t afford.”
As a member of the State Senate, Oliverio recently served as chair of the labor committee and vice-chair of the judiciary committee.
He sees fiscal responsibility as the most important issue to voters in this election.
“If someone borrowed your credit card and ran up a $40,000 charge on it, would you be angry? I think most people would say absolutely,” he said.
“The idea of being able to spend ourselves out of economic difficulties, I think, is a fallacy.”
While Mollohan says he’s concerned about the national debt, he thinks another issue is more pressing to voters.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs. And how we deal with that issue in the present by faithfully representing the best interests of our constituency as policy issues come before the Congress,” he said.
In recent weeks, the campaign between Mollohan and Oliverio has grown tense.
The two have exchanged campaign ads attacking each other.
First, Oliverio released a campaign ad criticizing Mollohan's accumulation of wealth since he's been in Congress.
Mollohan responded with an ad criticizing Oliverio’s relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council.
According to its website, Oliverio is the co-state chair of the group. Mollohan describes the ALEC as right-wing.
Even polling shows a conflict between Mollohan and Oliverio.
Poll numbers released last month by Oliverio’s campaign have him ahead by eight points.
But last week, Mollohan’s campaign released a poll showing Mollohan has a nine point lead.
Robert Rupp is a political science professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
He says this election is significant because it will be known as one of the most anti-incumbent elections in years.
“For that reason, Mollohan is in trouble. This is probably the first time in four generations that democratic politicians in the state have criticized a Democratic president,” Rupp said.
“Just him being challenged in the primary shows he’s vulnerable, and more important, the fact that you have four or five Republicans that want to take him on in November, this is a brand new experience for a long-time incumbent.”
Rupp says if Oliverio pulls off a victory over Mollohan, the first district race is going to be the center of national attention in the general election.