Joe Manchin’s first foray into GOP politics ends in stinging defeat

Supporting West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin in a Republican primary wasn’t enough to deter GOP voters from casting their ballots for former President Donald Trump’s nominee instead.

Backed by Trump’s endorsement, West Virginia Representative Alex Mooney scored another MAGA victory for Trump after he lost the Republican 2nd place nomination.

On Tuesday, Mooney faced Rep. David McKinley in a rare race between incumbent and House incumbent. All but one of McKinley’s counties were incorporated into the newly formed district.

The district, represented by Mooney since 2015, is slightly more conservative and affluent than the rest of West Virginia. In both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, Trump led the district with 66 and 65 percent of the vote, respectively.

Though Manchin remained popular as the only Democrat elected statewide in Republican stronghold West Virginia, Tuesday’s primary proved that GOP voters appeared unfazed by the senator’s endorsement.

The winner of Tuesday’s primaries is expected to win November’s general election. There were three other GOP contenders in the house race: Susan Buchser-Lochocki, Rhonda Hercules and Mike Seckman.

Mooney had been poised to win the primary, with a West Virginia MetroNews Friday poll showing he held a 15-point lead over McKinley.

Manchin Trump West Virginia
Rep. David McKinley, supported by Sen. Joe Manchin, lost a Republican primary in West Virginia on Tuesday to Alex Mooney, a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump. Above, Manchin is followed by reporters to his car after attending a vote at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on December 14, 2021
Anna Moneymaker/Getty

The contest between Mooney and McKinley drew national media attention in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s primary thanks to conspicuous support from the candidates.

Although Trump supported Mooney, many of the former president’s cronies – including West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – sided with Manchin on McKinley’s side.

McKinley took a risky gamble earlier this year when he voted on President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package — a move Trump has repeatedly criticized the 75-year-old civil engineer for.

Though McKinley has voted with Trump more times than Mooney during his presidency, the GOP kingmaker has taken any bipartisan effort as a sign of disloyalty. McKinley also voted to create a House committee to investigate the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

McKinley, a seventh-generation West Virginian, ran an infrastructure campaign and estimated that Biden’s plan would provide his home state more than $700 million over five years to help reclaim abandoned mineland, improve water quality and promote economic development.

“It’s good for West Virginia. This is not a vote for anyone but West Virginia,” McKinley told Roll Call at the time.

Trump, stumping for Mooney at a tele-rally last week, said McKinley’s positions on infrastructure and the Jan. 6 committee “betrayed the Republican voters in West Virginia and the great people of West Virginia.”

Despite these criticisms, Justice has praised McKinley for his infrastructure vote, even saying that Trump “made a mistake” in confirming it.

“Just think about it – what courage did it take to do it?” Justice said about McKinley’s infrastructure vote. “Isn’t that what we need in West Virginia after all?”

In its 2020 report, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave West Virginia a “D” grade for infrastructure.

https://www.newsweek.com/west-virginia-republican-primary-alex-mooney-david-mckinley-trump-manchin-endorsement-1704897 Joe Manchin’s first foray into GOP politics ends in stinging defeat

Rick Schindler

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