Rep. Alex Mooney defeated Rep. David McKinley in the GOP primary for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District on Tuesday, a victory for former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Mooney.
In a rare matchup of incumbents, McKinley and Mooney faced off after the state lost one of its congressional seats amid declining population and their districts were combined.
Trump backed Mooney after McKinley voted for the bipartisan infrastructure package and the effort to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
At Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania last week, Mooney called McKinley “a total RINO,” an acronym for “Republican in name only” frequently used as an insult to mean someone is insufficiently conservative or loyal to the party.
“He voted for the January 6th commission to investigate Donald Trump and his allies,” Mooney said. “He was one of 13 so-called Republicans to vote for the Joe Biden-Pelosi non-infrastructure $1.2 trillion spending package. … He’s a liberal, RINO Republican. To be successful, we need to kick out these RINOs in primaries.”
At the same rally, Trump said McKinley is someone Mooney “should beat easily.”
“You better beat them easily,” Trump said. “Or I’m gonna look very bad. They’re gonna say, ‘Trump has lost it!’”
McKinley has called Mooney a “carpetbagger,” citing his move to West Virginia in 2014 to run for Congress after having served in the Maryland state Senate and chairing the Maryland GOP.
While Trump threw his support behind Mooney, McKinley has the backing of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican who changed his party affiliation after Trump’s presidential victory, and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
In a 30-second campaign ad released by the McKinley campaign, Manchin praised McKinley for backing the infrastructure deal and said it was an “outright lie” for Mooney to claim McKinley supported Biden’s “Build Back Better” social welfare proposals.
“Alex Mooney has proven he’s all about Alex Mooney,” Manchin said in the ad. “But West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us.”