Elections

Trump-Backed West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney Wins Nasty Member-Versus-Member Primary

Photos by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney defeated fellow Republican Rep. David McKinley on Tuesday in a member-versus-member primary brought on by reapportionment following the 2020 census.

The West Virginia state legislature placed Mooney and McKinley in the newly-drawn Second District, covering the northern half of the state, and Republican Rep. Carol Miller in the southern First District. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Mooney in November, while McKinley unveiled endorsements from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Gov. Jim Justice in the last weeks of the race. (RELATED: Census Bureau Announces States In The South, Northwest Pick Up Congressional Seats)

Several elections forecasters called the race with only 20% of precincts reporting. Mooney ran up vote totals in the state’s eastern panhandle, which constituted the core of his old Second District. Mooney has represented the area since 2015, and more than 70% of voters in his home Jefferson County supported him. In contrast, McKinley failed to rack up larger margins in the northern panhandle, which was formerly a part of his old First District.

Both candidates ran exceedingly negative campaigns, with Mooney citing McKinley’s support for an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“He betrayed you. David McKinley joined Nancy Pelosi in voting for the Jan. 6 anti-Trump witch hunt to attack our president and our values,” a Mooney ad released in January says. “Then, McKinley backed Biden for a trillion dollar spending spree that’s creating record inflation.”

In response, McKinley has highlighted Mooney’s 2013 move to West Virginia after serving in the Maryland state Senate for twelve years.

“He’s run for office in three different states,” an ad paid for by the McKinley campaign says. That ad, released in January, notes headlines describing Mooney as “The Portrait of a Political Prostitute” and “an opportunistic career politician who has never had a job outside of politics.”

A poll released on May 6 found Mooney leading McKinley by 15 points, 48-33. The poll of 350 Republican and Independent registered voters was conducted from April 27-May 4 by Research America Inc. on behalf of West Virginia MetroNews.

The election marks another key victory for Trump, whose endorsed candidates won primary elections in Ohio on May 3. Best-selling author and venture capitalist JD Vance won a seven candidate Senate primary, and House candidates Max Miller and Madison Gesiotto Gilbert won open primaries following the retirements of incumbent House Republicans.