"It's clear this is not the agenda they wanted. This wasn't the change they envisioned,'' McKinley said of West Virginia voters. "I think this is what this campaign is going to become in the fall.''
For his part, Mollohan insisted that most of his constituents wanted the health care reform he has championed for years. He said he works hard to ensure no public funds are used for abortions and is confident the legislation achieved that, even though the National Right to Life Political Action Committee endorsed Oliverio.
"I feel good in my heart tonight,'' said Mollohan, standing with his wife and son. "We feel like we have worked really hard and have done many, many good things in the district.''
Mollohan was first elected in 1982, to a House seat long held by his father. He ran a relatively lethargic campaign until recent weeks, when he began airing TV ads calling Oliverio dangerously conservative and bad for business and labor. Oliverio had campaigned aggressively since entering the race in January.
Mollohan dismissed the attacks as a smear campaign that began four years ago when he refused to let House Republicans undermine ethics committee rules to try to protect former Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.
In 2006, the Justice Department opened an investigation of Mollohan that is believed to have focused on the rapid growth of his personal wealth and his pattern of securing federal funds for nonprofits he helped create.
Mollohan stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee that April and stepped aside in early 2007 from a subcommittee that handles funding for the Justice Department.
The investigation ended in January without comment or charges -- which Mollohan considered vindication.
The ethics probe was also a focal point of the Republican effort to defeat Mollohan in 2006, but he carried 64 percent of the vote over GOP challenger Chris Wakim. In 2008, Mollohan went unopposed.
Oliverio insisted he was the Democratic Party's best hope at securing the seat it has held for generations.
Two other West Virginia incumbents won their respective nominations Tuesday.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito was unopposed in the 2nd District Republican primary and will face former Catholic nun Virginia Lynch Graf, who was also unopposed, in the fall.
Rep. Nick Rahall easily defeated a little-known challenger in the 3rd District Democratic primary and will face one of four Republican challengers this fall. Former state Supreme Court justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard had a narrow lead in the GOP primary early Wednesday.