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Alex Mooney tops crowded field to win GOP U.S. House primary in West Virgina

Republican primary race in state’s 2nd District featured Tea Party-versus-establishment battle

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

west-virginia mugCHARLESTON, West Virginia (CFP) — Just a year after moving across the Potomac River from Maryland into West Virginia, Republican Alex Mooney has won his party’s nomination for his new state’s open 2nd District U.S. House seat.

GOP House candidate Alex Mooney

GOP House candidate Alex Mooney

In a seven-way race, Mooney captured 36 percent of the vote, defeating Ken Reed, a pharmacy owner from Berkeley Springs, who came in second at 22 percent, and Charlotte Lane, a Charleston lawyer and international trade commissioner under President George W. Bush, who took 18 percent of the vote.

West Virginia does not have primary runoffs.

The battle for the GOP nod in the 2nd District turned into a closely watched tussle between outside conservative activists and Tea Party groups, who backed Mooney, and business and party leaders who lined up behind Lane. Reed poured more than $500,000 of his own money into the race.

Lane had the backing of the powerful West Virginia Coal Association. Mooney was endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Tea Party Express and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Despite her establishment credentials, Mooney eclipsed Lane in fundraising by $150,000, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Both Lane and Reed had accused Mooney, who served in the Maryland Senate from 1999 to 2010, of being a carpetbagger who parachuted into West Virginia to seek political office.

He had formed an exploratory committee for a U.S. House race in Maryland in 2012 but eventually decided not to run, and he moved to West Virginia in 2013. His Maryland Senate district was adjacent to the Mountaineer State.

Nick Casey, the former chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, easily won his party’s nomination for the 2nd District seat and will face Mooney in November.

The 2nd District meanders across 17 counties from Charleston, the state capital, to the Eastern Panhandle sandwiched between Maryland and Virginia. The seat is currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is giving it up to run for the U.S. Senate.

Capito easily won her Senate primary and will face Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in the fall.

Even though Capito has held the seat since 2001 and Mitt Romney captured 60 percent of its presidential votes in 2012, Democrats see the seat as a potential pickup target. Casey has raised more than $890,000 in a district with modest media advertising costs, according to FEC reports.

Capito did not endorse any of the candidates in the Republican primary.


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