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Evan Hollin Jenkins, elected to Congress in November 2014, is a lawyer and long-time 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 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 went on to serve 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 Democratic 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 would remain a hotly debated issue during the campaign.

Jenkins ran unopposed in the 2014 Republican primary. In that November’s general election, unofficial returns show he captured 55.3 percent of the vote, compared with Rahall’s 44.7 percent. In his successful campaign, Jenkins hit hard at President Obama, accusing the president and his supporters of a “War on Coal” and calling 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 gay marriage.

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 to care for newborn infants suffering drug withdrawal from prenatal exposure.

He and his wife Elizabeth have two sons, Evan Jr. and Charles, and a daughter, Olivia. He was reelected to Congress in 2016.

This Article was written by James E. Casto

Last Revised on November 21, 2016


Cite This Article

Casto, James E. "Evan Jenkins." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 November 2016. Web. 17 July 2018.

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