Alex Mooney Rides Trump Endorsement to West Virginia House Primary Win

POLITICS: Alex Mooney Rides Trump Endorsement to West Virginia House Primary Win

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Representative Alex Mooney defeated a House colleague and fellow Republican, David McKinley, in a primary in West Virginia that again proved both the power of an endorsement by former President Donald J. Trump and the weight that right-wing ideology holds with Republican primary voters.

Mr. Mooney, a four-term House Republican known more as a conservative warrior than a legislator, used Mr. Trump’s endorsement to overcome a distinct disadvantage: The redrawn district he was running in included far more of Mr. McKinley’s old district than Mr. Mooney’s.

The huge margins Mr. Mooney was able to run up in the fast-growing counties from his old district along the Maryland state line proved too great for Mr. McKinley, and the result was called on Tuesday night by The Associated Press.

Mr. Mooney had blanketed the state with radio and television advertisements that featured Mr. Trump offering him the former president’s “complete and total endorsement,” while slamming Mr. McKinley for voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and for a bipartisan commission to examine the Jan. 6 attack.

Mr. McKinley had the backing of West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, and its Democratic senator, Joe Manchin III. And he had hoped the infrastructure bill would be an asset, not a liability, in a state used to — and in need of — federal support. But that appeared to be a miscalculation, as West Virginia is also a place that gave Mr. Trump 69 percent of the vote in 2020.

By turning the primary into a contest between a Trump-focused partisan and an incumbent running on his record of legislating, the two Republicans elevated the race for the Second District into something of a signal of how a possible Republican House majority might govern next year. In the end, ideology won out easily.

The Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee that split with Mr. Trump in the Republican Senate primary in Ohio but also backed Mr. Mooney in West Virginia, was exultant.

“The result of this bellwether race is a clear sign that Republicans want their members of Congress to be real conservatives as opposed to moderate RINOs,” said the group’s president, David McIntosh, using the acronym for “Republicans in name only,” a conservative slur.

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