West Virginia lost a congressional seat in the recent census, and with the redrawn lines, two Republican incumbents have found themselves vying for a seat in the same district.
GOP Rep. Alex Mooney has represented West Virginia’s 2nd district since 2015. Rep. David McKinley has been the state’s 1st district Congressman since 2011. Both incumbents are running in the newly-drawn 2nd district setting up a rare red-on-red competition.
Rep. Mooney received the endorsement of Donald Trump last November. He’s accusing McKinley of being a RINO for supporting the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal. But Mooney stretched the truth when he claimed that McKinley supports Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better bill.
To counter that claim, McKinley enlisted the services of the state’s senior senator and most popular politician: Joe Manchin. In a highly unusual move, the Democrat Manchin cut an ad for Republican congressman McKinley.
“I’ve always said if I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it. And that’s why I opposed Build Back Better. For Alex Mooney and his out-of-state supporters to suggest David McKinley supported Build Back Better is an outright lie,” Manchin says in the 30-second ad.
“David McKinley has always opposed reckless spending because it doesn’t make sense for West Virginia. Alex Mooney has proven he’s all about Alex Mooney. But West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us,” he finished.
Mooney went on the attack, saying that Manchin’s endorsement was “proof” that McKinley is a RINO.
Further proof David McKinley is a complete and total RINO. Democrat Joe Manchin is endorsing him. pic.twitter.com/JuDvHqevfg
— Alex Mooney (@MooneyforWV) April 30, 2022
McKinley was one of 35 House Republicans to vote for the formation of a bipartisan Jan. 6 Commission, as did Mooney. Both members voted against the current, partisan Jan. 6 commission.
But what turned Trump against McKinley was his refusal to back efforts to overturn the 2020 election. McKinley said Congress lacked the authority to object to election results.
“Look, I don’t like the results of this election at all. Like most West Virginians I voted for President Trump and am deeply disappointed at the outcome of the election. I am angry and frustrated at what happened with the states in question. However, that does not mean I can deviate from the limited role laid out by the Constitution,” McKinley said in January.
“Protecting the integrity of our elections and maintaining the confidence of American voters is fundamental to the health of our country. Congress and state legislatures must take steps now to address the flaws that have been clearly identified and make sure they can’t happen in the future. The American people deserve peace of mind that national elections are uniform, fair, and transparent. In so doing we can restore confidence in the electoral process.”
The Manchin endorsement only adds to the speculation that the West Virginia senator will switch parties before long. The latest rumors are fed by the new book by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, claiming Manchin told Sen. John Thune, the number two Republican in the Senate, that he’d switch parties if Thune became GOP leader.
Manchin dismissed the story as him joking with his Republican friends in the Senate. Indeed, Manchin is a very old-fashioned West Virginia Democrat, and while the rest of his party has left him far behind, he says he’s still loyal to those voters who elected him.