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Congressman Alan Bowlby Mollohan is a congressman’s son who served longer than his father in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was born in Fairmont on May 14, 1943. For six years, beginning in seventh grade, he attended Greenbrier Military School in Lewisburg. Mollohan went on to graduate from the College of William and Mary and West Virginia University’s College of Law before beginning a legal career with a Fairmont law firm in 1970. First elected to the House in 1982, he was reelected every two years until 2010.

Alan Mollohan’s father, Robert Mollohan (1909–99) was elected to the House in 1952 and 1954 before running as the Democratic nominee for governor in 1956, when Republican Cecil Underwood was elected. Robert Mollohan lost an attempt to return to Congress in 1966, but he reclaimed the seat in 1968. He was reelected every two years after that until he retired in 1982.

In replacing his father in 1982, Alan Mollohan defeated not only Democratic primary opponents but also Republican John McCuskey. In 1984, Republican Jim Altmeyer waged a strong but unsuccessful campaign against Mollohan. After that, Mollohan usually did not face strong opponents in his reelection bids. A notable exception was in 1992, when he was pitted against another incumbent congressman, Harley Staggers Jr., also the son of a congressman, in the Democratic primary. Because of West Virginia’s loss of about eight percent of its population during the 1980s, when most other states gained population, the size of the state’s House delegation dropped from four to three members. Unfortunately for Staggers, in re-drawing the boundaries the state legislature cut him off from most of his former district in eastern West Virginia and put him into a northern district mostly made up of Mollohan’s old district. Mollohan won 13 of the 19 counties in the new First District and received 65 percent of the vote.

In 1986, Mollohan was appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee. That put him in a position to direct more federal funding to West Virginia, often working in cooperation with Robert Byrd, the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Over the years, he became the top Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as several independent agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation.

Beginning early in his career in Congress, Mollohan was a member of the Congressional Steel Caucus and opponent of many international trade treaties. As a strong opponent of abortion, he was a member and co-chairman of the Pro-Life Caucus. Mollohan was instrumental in the creation of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation, the Institute for Scientific Research, the Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex, and the Canaan Valley Institute.

In 1976, Mollohan married Barbara Whiting, who was a speech therapist in the Ohio County schools although she is originally from Glenville. They are the parents of four sons and one daughter.

Alan Mollohan lost his bid for a 15th consecutive term in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 11, 2010, falling in the Democratic primary to challenger Michael Oliverio, who lost in the general election to Republican David McKinley. Mollohan later worked for the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, which has offices in Huntington and Washington, D.C., among other locations.

This Article was written by Jim Wallace

Last Revised on July 21, 2023

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Cite This Article

Wallace, Jim "Alan Mollohan." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 July 2023. Web. 24 May 2024.


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