Unrepentant Jan. 6 rioter Derrick Evans goes up against GOP Rep. Carol Miller in West Virginia

FILE - In this image provided by the West Virginia Legislative Photography, Derrick Evans raises his hand during a swearing-in ceremony to the West Virginia House of Delegates on Dec. 1, 2020, in Charleston, W.Va. Evans was sentenced to three months in prison for his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Evans will face U.S. Rep. Carol Miller in the West Virginia 1st Congressional District Republican primary on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Will Price/West Virginia Legislative Photography via AP, File)

By JOHN RABY Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Incumbent Rep. Carol Miller has seen plenty of political challengers throughout her long, popular career, but perhaps not one as boisterous as Derrick Evans, her opponent in Tuesday’s Republican primary in West Virginia’s 1st Congressional District.

Evans was a participant in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, and his verbal attacks on the three-term congresswoman have grown louder as the election has neared.

Both are huge backers of former President Donald Trump, but that’s where the similarities may end.

Miller has kept a low profile compared to some of her more outspoken colleagues since becoming the third woman from West Virginia elected to Congress in 2018. The 73-year-old bison farmer and small business owner also served six terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Her father is the late U.S. Rep. Samuel Devine of Ohio.

In 2022, Miller received 66% of the vote in a five-candidate GOP primary en route to winning her third term in Congress. This time, Evans is her only opponent.

The 39-year-old Evans, whose campaign over the past month has pushed out emails almost daily highlighting his love for Trump and his attacks on Miller, was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates two months before the Jan. 6 riot. He calls himself the only elected official who “had the courage” to stand behind efforts to temporarily halt the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. He livestreamed himself on Facebook cheering on what he described as a “revolution.”

Evans was arrested two days after the riot and resigned his seat a month before the 2021 legislative session. He pleaded guilty to a felony civil disorder charge and served three months in prison. At his sentencing hearing, Evans apologized for his actions, but he did an about-face upon leaving prison. He began portraying himself as a victim of a politically motivated prosecution.

Evans once called himself a Democrat, finishing sixth out of seven candidates in a state House primary in 2016. He then switched to the Libertarian Party in the general election and finished last among five candidates.

In the campaign against Miller, Evans has called her a “commie RINO” who “refused to stand and fight with President Trump,” as well as an “undocumented Democrat.” Miller was aligned with Trump in nearly 100% of her House votes while the former president was in office.

Evans has echoed false claims still made by Trump that the 2020 election was stolen. And in the hours after Evans and other rioters had stormed the Capitol, Miller voted to challenge the Electoral College results in two states Biden won. Miller said in a statement at the time that she had a constitutional duty to “ensure that all Americans have access to free, fair, and accurate elections.”

In an email to The Associated Press, Miller did not directly address the 2020 result. But she said she is the only candidate in the race who “has never been a registered Democrat or run for office as a Democrat.”

The winner of Tuesday’s race moves on to the Nov. 5 general election to face one of two Democrats from Charleston — Vietnam veteran Jim Umberger or educator Chris Reed.

In the 2nd Congressional District, state Treasurer Riley Moore was among five candidates seeking the GOP nomination for the seat being vacated by Republican Alex Mooney, who is running for U.S. Senate. Democrat Steven Wendelin was running unopposed.

West Virginia hasn’t elected a Democrat to the House since 2012 and was one of only two states where Trump won every county in 2016 and 2020.