Elections

Sen. Joe Manchin Wades Into House GOP Primary With Major Endorsement Against Trump-Backed Candidate

(Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin endorsed Republican West Virginia Rep. David McKinley on Friday in McKinley’s member-versus-member primary battle against Rep. Alex Mooney.

Manchin cited McKinley’s opposition to “reckless spending” in the ad, while accusing Mooney of “lying” about McKinley’s opposition to the Build Back Better social spending package. McKinley was one of thirteen House Republicans to support the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which Manchin and Republican West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito helped negotiate.

Mooney previously accused McKinley of “pav[ing] the way for Democrats to pass” Build Back Better by supporting the bipartisan package.

“I’ve always said if I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it. And that’s why I opposed Build Back Better. For Alex Mooney and his out-of-state supporters to suggest David McKinley supported Build Back Better is an outright lie,” Manchin says in the ad.

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“David McKinley has always opposed reckless spending because it doesn’t make sense for West Virginia. Alex Mooney has proven he’s all about Alex Mooney. But West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us,” he added.

Although cross-party endorsements are rare, this is not the first time Manchin has done so. He endorsed Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins in her 2020 race and Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her 2022 race.

Redistricting and reapportionment forced the McKinley-Mooney primary matchup. West Virginia lost a congressional seat following the 2020 census, and the state legislature drew a north-south split, leaving Republican Rep. Carol Miller to run in the southern 1st Congressional District. The primary is one of five that pit representatives against members of their own party. (RELATED: Trump Endorses Illinois Rep. Mary Miller Ahead Of Member Vs Member Primary)

The McKinley-Mooney primary has been marked by particularly negative campaigning, with McKinley alleging Mooney’s 2014 move from Maryland to West Virginia is evidence that he is a carpetbagger. McKinley has also blasted Mooney as a “political prostitute” and called attention to an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation against him.

In response, Mooney has accused McKinley of being a “RINO,” noting his support for the IIJA, as well as an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. McKinley also voted to certify the 2020 presidential election, while Mooney objected to several electoral slates.

Mooney tweeted that Manchin’s endorsement was “further proof” that “McKinley is a complete and total RINO.”

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Mooney.