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Rep. Alex Mooney is projected by the Associated Press as the winner in the GOP congressional primary in West Virginia’s 2nd District in a battle with fellow Republican Rep. David McKinley.
And while former President Donald Trump wasn’t on the ballot, his prestige within the GOP was very much on the line in a bitter contest between two incumbent lawmakers, as Trump had endorsed Mooney.
West Virginia lost a congressional seat during the once-in-a-decade congressional reapportionment, and Mooney and McKinley were drawn into the state’s newly refigured 2nd District.
West Virginia lost a congressional seat during the once-in-a-decade congressional reapportionment.
The race has partially turned into a test of the former president’s status as the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party, nearly 16 months removed from the White House.
Mooney touts on the campaign trail and in ads that he’s the “only candidate Trump trusts to defend our values” and criticizes McKinley as a “RINO” and a “sellout.”
Mooney has repeatedly attacked McKinley for voting in favor of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law – one of President Biden’s domestic achievements, which will bring plenty of federal dollars to West Virginia, a state badly in need of infrastructure improvements. And Mooney targets McKinley for supporting the Democratic-controlled House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by right-wing extremists aiming to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump.
Mooney told Fox News on Tuesday morning that Trump’s endorsement matters in the race. “Voters understand that he endorsed me,” Mooney said. “I think it makes a big difference.”
McKinley in his latest ad charges that Mooney, who’s currently facing an ethics investigation, is “desperate” and a “fraud.”
“Mooney opposed Trump’s wall four times; opposed Trump’s plan to ban fentanyl from China; opposed Trump’s plan for veterans,” the moderator in McKinley’s spot claims.
While the former president didn’t hold a rally for Mooney in West Virginia, he invited the congressman to speak this past Friday at a rally in neighboring Pennsylvania.
McKinley enjoys the backing of Republican Gov. Jim Justice.
And in an interesting twist, longtime moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a former two-term governor with universal name ID in West Virginia, crossed party lines to star in a new ad on behalf of McKinley.
In the spot, Manchin accuses Mooney of lying about McKinley and charges “Alex Mooney has proven he’s all about Alex Mooney, but West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us.”
Fox News’ Jake Karalexis contributed to this report