At a Glance
- Career History: Staff Assistant, U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (1971-74;) President, Mountaineer Tour & Travel Agency (1974-76); President, West Virginia Broadcasting Corp. (1980-present)
- Birthday: May 20, 1949
- Hometown: Beckley, W.Va.
- Alma Mater: Duke University, B.A. 1971
- Spouse: Melinda Rahall
- Religion: Presbyterian
- Committees: Ranking member, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (since January 2011); Natural Resources
- DC Office: 2307 Rayburn HOB, 202-225-3452
- District Offices: Beckley: 304-252-5000; Bluefield: 304-325-6222; Huntington: 304-522-6425; Logan: 304-752-4934
- Web site
Path to Power
Rahall traces his roots to a land far from his upbringing in Beckley, West Virginia: his grandfather arrived there from Kfier, Lebanon in 1903, to set up a traveling sales business, and his family has stayed there ever since, gradually expanding into retail, real estate and broadcasting.
Over three-quarters of a century, Lebanese culture remained a strong influence-Rahall grew up speaking Arabic and recalls eating Lebanese food every other day or so.
The Rahall has been a good Democrat, voting with the party 97.3 percent of the time in the 111th Congress. But he by no means falls in lockstep with the party; he has a conservative record on social issues especially, earning a zero percent from NARAL Pro-Choice America and an A from the National Rifle Association in 2003 for his opposition to abortion rights and gun control. More than most in the House, Rahall is a home-district loyalist, spending most of his time on issues relevant to his rural district.
Rahall has a clear agenda for strengthening the economy in West Virginia, rendered in shorthand as the "Three T's"-transportation, technology, and tourism. He cites with pride the many chunks of cash he has secured for his home state through the appropriations process, including $12 million for the Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute at Marshall University, established in 1998.
Rahall learned the political trade while working for Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) in the 1970s. Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has also been a key associate from early on in 1982, Rahall co-hosted a breakfast fundraiser with then-Gov. Rockefeller to both celebrate Rahall's 33rd birthday and recover campaign debt, the invitation for which featured the two men in bathrobes. Rahall is also likely work closely with Governor-turned-Senator Joe Manchin (D-WestVa.) in the 112th Congress.
He ound himself aligned with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) on two key issues: while Dingell held the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the two Democrats shared the same allegiance to fossil-fuel-based home state industries as well as a commitment to Middle East issues; Dingell also worked to end the Lebanese travel ban in 1997.