By Mannix Porterfield
Freshman Sen. Bill Cole removed himself Wednesday as a potential Republican candidate for the race for Congress next year in the 3rd District, and two-time loser Rick Snuffer hasn’t made up his mind about challenging veteran Rep. Nick Rahall a third time.
Snuffer says he actually never stopped running for office, but is undecided about a third effort in 2014, or waiting that one out in favor of a run in 2016.
“When I take him on again, it will be a third-round knockout,” the former Republican delegate said.
Cole had been heavily courted by national Republicans as a potential candidate to run against Rahall in the off-year congressional races, but begged off, saying he wants to finish the job his 6th District constituents elected him to do in the state Senate.
“It is both flattering and a humbling experience to be asked to run for Congress by so many fellow West Virginians, members of my party and those concerned with the future of our nation,” the automobile dealer said.
“It is because of these people that I have given it my full consideration. While I believe that now is the time for a new kind of leader to represent the 3rd District of West Virginia, I believe that I have an obligation to continue to serve those who put their trust in me by electing me to the state Senate.”
Cole said the state is populated with “good, God-fearing, honest people who want the same things that I want.”
“We all share a common dream for our state,” he said.
“We all want a safe and prosperous environment for our families and our friends and we want our children to have the opportunity to be as successful as their imaginations and work ethic will allow. As a West Virginian, a public official and a father, it is my duty to do everything in my power to make sure that we never miss a chance to make our dream a reality.”
Snuffer lost the first time to Rahall in 2004, then again last year, coming within about 15,000 votes of a victory.
“Bill not running is southern West Virginia’s loss,” Snuffer said of Cole. “He would have been not just a good candidate, but a great congressman. I’ve never quit. I’m just not actively campaigning right now. I plan on making my announcement closer to the filing deadline (in January).”
Snuffer acknowledged that national Republican leaders have been in contact with him about running for the 3rd District seat, but said they likely would prefer a candidate with the financial means to conduct a race.
Rahall has announced he intends to seek his 20th consecutive term in 2014.
“There will be a third race,” Snuffer said. “Whether it’s 2014 or 2016 will be announced when it’s closer to the filing deadline.”
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