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Evan Hollin Jenkins is a lawyer and former West Virginia Supreme Court justice, congressman, and state legislator. He ousted veteran Congressman Nick Rahall in the 2014 election to win West Virginia’s Third District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Jenkins was born in Huntington, September 12, 1960, the son of John E. Jenkins and Dorothy C. Jenkins. His father was a well-known Huntington attorney. Jenkins earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in 1983 and went on to earn his J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in 1987.

Initially registering as a Democrat, Jenkins later changed to Republican, then switched back to the Democratic Party in 1993 when he decided to seek a Cabell-Wayne County seat in the House of Delegates. Successful in that bid for office, he served three terms in the House. In 2002, he was elected to the State Senate, serving three terms.

While still in the State Senate, Jenkins switched his party affiliation from Democrat back to Republican on July 31, 2013, and announced his run for West Virginia’s Third Congressional District on the same day. His party switch was anticipated by state Democrats, who immediately stripped Jenkins of his leadership posts in the State Senate. Rahall, who had held the Third District seat since 1977, said he had expected Jenkins to change parties and run against him. The switch remained a hotly debated issue during the campaign.

Jenkins ran unopposed in the 2014 Republican primary. In that November’s general election, he captured 55.3 percent of the vote, compared with Rahall’s 44.7 percent. In his successful campaign, Jenkins steadily criticized President Obama for supporting a “War on Coal” and called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. He also pledged to defend the rights of gun owners and voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage.

He was reelected to his seat in Congress in 2016, receiving nearly 68 percent of the vote in the general election. In 2018, Jenkins ran for the Republican nomination to unseat U.S. Senator Joe Manchin but lost to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the May primary. On September 30, 2018, he resigned from Congress to accept an appointment by Governor Jim Justice to fill Robin Davis’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court; his term on the court began the next day. On November 6, 2018 Jenkins won the special election to complete the remainder of her term. In February 2022 he abruptly resigned from his court seat and returned to private practice.

Jenkins has served as executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association, taught business law as an instructor at Marshall University, and from 1987 to 1992 practiced law with his father’s firm, Jenkins Fenstermaker, in Huntington. Active in community affairs in Huntington, Jenkins has been a volunteer leader for the Boy Scouts, the Red Cross, and Big Brothers-Big Sisters. He led a successful effort to establish Lilly’s Place, a facility that cares for newborn infants suffering drug withdrawal from prenatal exposure.

This Article was written by James E. Casto

Last Revised on July 19, 2023


Sources

McElhinny, Brad. Supreme Court Justice Evan Jenkins Announces He’s Stepping Down. WV Metro News, February 4, 2022.

Cite This Article

Casto, James E. "Evan Jenkins." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 19 July 2023. Web. 03 March 2024.

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