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Government

In Mooney-McKinley Republican Primary, Who Has The Advantage?

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Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.

Two West Virginia members of the U.S. House of Representatives will face each other in next year’s Republican primary.

Because of population loss in the 2020 Census, West Virginia lost one of its three House seats.

After redistricting, incumbent representatives Alex Mooney and David McKinley are running against each other.

They’re both Republicans, and they voted the same way 87% of the time in their last term.

But, that’s where the similarities end.

McKinley, a native of Wheeling, is in his sixth term representing northern West Virginia. He was previously a member of the state House of Delegates and chaired the state Republican party.

Mooney, of Charles Town, is in his fourth term. He moved to the eastern panhandle in 2014 after serving as chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. His current district includes Charleston.

While McKinley is well-established in West Virginia, it may take more to win in the new district.

Mooney has more than $2.7 million in his campaign account, while McKinley has $630,000.

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@RepAlexMooney
Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., with former President Donald Trump.

Mooney also has an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who remains popular in West Virginia.

“It’s setting up as a very interesting and probably pretty competitive primary,” said Kyle Kondik, an election analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Kondik initially thought McKinley had the edge because he’s more familiar to West Virginia voters.

But, he added, Trump’s endorsement and a bigger fundraising haul boosts Mooney’s chances.

“McKinley starts with an advantage because of geography,” Kondik said. “And then it’s a question of, ‘how does Mooney overcome that?’ Well, a Trump endorsement and having more money, those are two things that are helpful.”

Another issue that could cut both ways: infrastructure.

McKinley was one of 13 House Republicans to vote for a bipartisan infrastructure bill President Joe Biden signed into law.

Mooney voted against it, and Trump mentioned that specifically in his endorsement.

Still, the law delivers plenty of needed investment to West Virginia. It includes money for roads and bridges, broadband, drinking water, abandoned mine lands and orphaned oil and gas wells.

The primary is set for May 10. Until then, West Virginians can expect to see a flurry of advertising from both candidates on who will best represent the new 2nd district.


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