Elections

Republican Gov. Jim Justice Blasts Trump’s Endorsement In Key Primary

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice called out former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Rep. Alex Mooney in a member versus member primary brought on by once-in-a-decade reapportionment.

Trump endorsed Mooney, who is running against fellow Republican Rep. David McKinley in a race that has turned extremely negative. Mooney has called McKinley a “RINO,” citing his votes to certify the 2020 presidential election, in favor of a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and in favor of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. In response, McKinley has blasted Mooney as a carpetbagger and “political prostitute,” noting that he served in the Maryland state Senate before moving to West Virginia in 2014. (RELATED: Sen. Joe Manchin Wades Into House GOP Primary With Major Endorsement Against Trump-Backed Candidate)

“Now I don’t have a dog in the fight against Alex Mooney in any way,” Justice said during a Thursday appearance with McKinley at a research facility in the northern part of the state, according to the Parkersburg News and Sentinel. “But I can tell you I have been close with the Trump family, and I am friends with Trump. From time to time, he can make a mistake. And this time, he has made a mistake.”

This man did something that probably agitated the president when he voted for the infrastructure bill. Just think about it — what kind of guts did it take to do it? At the end of the day, don’t we in West Virginia need that? Are you kidding me?”

Justice added that he has only “talked to Alex Mooney since I’ve been in office one time.”

First elected as a Democrat, Justice announced his switch to the GOP at a rally with Trump in 2017. He later claimed that Trump’s “attraction to West Virginia, contrary to anything you may think, is me.”

Trump won West Virginia by 42 points in 2016 and 39 points in 2020. He appeared Tuesday in a tele-rally with Mooney, calling him “a warrior in every sense of the way.”

West Virginia’s primary elections will be held Tuesday, May 10. The Second Congressional District has a 34-point Republican lean, according to FiveThirtyEight, making it a safe seat for whoever wins the primary.