Donald Trump backing Mooney after McKinley votes for independent January 6th investigation
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
MORGANTOWN, West Virginia (CFP) — Republicans in the northern half of West Virginia will go to the polls Tuesday to decide an incumbent-vs-incumbent U.S. House race that will test the potency of Donald Trump’s political brand in one of his strongest states.
In the state’s 2nd U.S. House District, Republican U.S. Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney –- thrown into the same district after West Virginia lost a House seat in reapportionment –- will face off in what has become a contentious intra-party spat.
Mountaineer State voters will also decide state legislative primaries and other local races Tuesday; there are no statewide races or U.S. Senate seats up this year.
Trump has endorsed Mooney over McKinley, who was one of just 35 Republicans to support an independent investigation into the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol and one of just 12 GOP members voting for Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.
McKinley later voted against a House-led January 6th investigation in which Republican leaders aren’t participating.
McKinley said he supported the infrastructure measure because West Virginia needed money, but Mooney has labeled him as a RINO – Republican in Name Only – for going along with a plan championed by Biden and Democrats.
The candidates’ West Virginia bona fides could also be a deciding factor: McKinley, 70, from Wheeling in the northern panhandle, touts that his family has been in the state for seven generations. Mooney, 50, from Charles Town in the eastern panhandle, is a former state senator in Maryland and Washington lobbyist who moved to the state prior to running for Congress in 2014.
Mooney is also currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee over allegations that he misused campaign funds, had office staff perform personal errands, and interfered in a previous ethics investigation. He has denied any wrongdoing.
McKinley has been endorsed by both Republican Governor Jim Justice and Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, the only Democrat still holding a statewide or federal office.
During a virtual appearance at a pre-election rally, Trump, who carried West Virginia by 40 points in 2016 and 39 points in 2020, charged that McKinley “betrayed Republican voters in West Virginia” with his bipartisan votes and called Mooney a “warrior In every sense of the way.”
But McKinley touts that he supported Trump 92% of the time in Congress and has accused Mooney of misleading voters into thinking that he supported Biden’s larger social spending program, which he opposed, rather than the smaller spending bill focused on infrastructure.
McKinley and Mooney were forced to run against each other after West Virginia lost one of its three U.S. House seats after 2020 reapportionment. State legislators decided to slice the state into northern and southern districts, throwing both men into a primary for the same seat.
The 2nd District includes the northern and western panhandles and the northern third of the state, including the cities of Morgantown, Wheeling and Parkersburg. McKinley represents more of the district than Mooney in the previous House map.
The state’s other incumbent U.S. House member, Republican Carol Miller, is running in the southern 1st District that includes Charleston and Huntington. She faces four Republican opponents but is expected to easily win the primary and face Democrat Lacy Watson, an instructor at Bluefield State College.
Democrats in the 2nd District will choose between former Morgantown city councilman Barry Wendell and Angela Dwyer, a security operations manager and mother of seven from Falling Waters. The winner will face either McKinley or Mooney in November
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