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

The endorsement of Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin in a Republican primary was not enough to dissuade GOP voters from voting for former President Donald Trump’s nominee.

Buoyed by Trump’s endorsement, West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney scored another MAGA victory for Trump after winning the Republican nomination for the state’s 2nd congressional district with 52% of the vote in the GOP at the time the race was called by The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, Mooney faced Rep. David McKinley in a rare incumbent vs. incumbent home race, following a redistricting. All but one of McKinley’s counties were absorbed into the newly formed district.

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

Although Manchin remained popular as the only elected statewide Democrat in the Republican stronghold of West Virginia, Tuesday’s primary proved that GOP voters were apparently unmoved by the senator’s endorsement.

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

Mooney was on course to win the primary, with a Friday West Virginia MetroNews poll showing he held a 15-point lead over McKinley.

Representative David McKinley, backed 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 to his car by reporters after taking part in a vote at the United States Capitol on December 14, 2021 in Washington, DC
Anna Moneymaker/Getty

The contest between Mooney and McKinley captured national media attention in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s primary, thanks to the contestants’ smash endorsements.

Although Trump backed Mooney, many of the former president’s loyalists, including West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, sided with McKinley, alongside Manchin.

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

Although McKinley voted with Trump more times than Mooney during his presidency, the GOP kingmaker saw any bipartisan effort as a sign of disloyalty. McKinley also voted to establish a House committee to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

McKinley, a seventh-generation West Virginian, has campaigned for infrastructure and estimated Biden’s plan would provide his home state with more than $700 million over five years to help reclaim abandoned mining lands, improve water quality and facilitate economic development.

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

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

Despite those criticisms, Justice praised McKinley for his vote on infrastructure, going so far as to say that Trump “made a mistake” on his endorsement.

“Think about it – what kind of courage did it take to do that?” Justice said of McKinley’s infrastructure vote. “At the end of the day, don’t we need this in West Virginia?”

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


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