Washington (CNN) – West Virginia Rep. Alan Mollohan lost Tuesday in the Democratic primary, the second congressional incumbent to fall in less than a week.
Mollohan, who was first elected to Congress in 1982, was dogged by ethical questions that opened the door for state Sen. Mike Oliverio to challenge the entrenched Democrat. Unofficial results posted on the West Virginia Secretary of State's website Wednesday morning shows that Oliverio received 33,174 votes to Mollohan's 26,007.
"For more than 25 years, Representative Alan Mollohan has been fighting to preserve West Virginia jobs, strengthen the economy and improve quality of life for the families he represents," Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement. "We thank him for his tireless service to the people of West Virginia, especially his dedication to strengthening economic development and high-tech and aerospace services.
"This was a tough and spirited primary process and we are confident that this historically Democratic seat will remain Democratic this November," Van Hollen added.
As of early Wednesday, Mollohan had not issued a written statement regarding his loss, but The Charleston Gazette quoted the 14-term Democrat as saying that the anti-incumbent mood in the country helped lead to his defeat.
"It's true there is definitely a wave out there, a national mood and wave," the congressman said to the newspaper.
On Saturday, Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, lost his bid for re-election after failing to receive enough support at the GOP state convention to qualify for the primary next month. Bennett, who was first elected in 1992, and also pointed to voter anger as a contributing factor in his loss.
In West Virginia, Oliverio portrayed himself as a more conservative Democrat, and some outside groups suggested that Mollohan's support of President Obama's health care bill helped lead to his defeat.
Mollohan had been the focus of an investigation into whether he benefited financially from nonprofit organizations in his state. But the Justice Department informed Mollohan in January that no charges would be filed as a result of their investigation. At the time, the congressman described the questions about his ethics as "a politically-motivated assault on my character."
Former West Virginia Republican Party Chairman David McKinley emerged from a crowded GOP primary to capture his party's nomination with 12,440 votes, according to the unofficial results posted on the Secretary of State's website.
Voters in Mollohan's congressional district, located in the northern part of the state, picked GOP presidential nominee John McCain over Democratic nominee Barack Obama in 2008 and President Bush over Democratic nominee John Kerry in 2004.