In an early victory for a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate at the start of midterm season, Rep. Alex Mooney on Tuesday beat fellow incumbent Rep. David McKinley in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District Republican primary.
“Donald Trump loves West Virginia, and West Virginia loves Donald Trump,” Mooney said in his victory speech.
McKinley was sharply criticized by the former president when he broke with his party as one of 13 Republicans to vote with the Democrats to support President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Trump called McKinley a RINO, or “Republican in Name Only” and endorsed Mooney the day President Biden signed the infrastructure law.
The two incumbents, who have taken dramatically different approaches to their time in office, were pitted against each other in the state’s 2nd Congressional District after population losses cost West Virginia a U.S. House seat.
McKinley, who has represented the state in the House since 2011, said in a statement Tuesday night that serving the people of West Virginia had been the honor of his life — and made a subtle reference to the infrastructure vote.
“I’m proud that I have always stood up for what’s right for West Virginia — even when it hurt me politically,” he said. "The groundwork we have laid over the last twelve years has paved the way for a more prosperous and diverse West Virginia economy.”
Mooney, who has served in West Virginia's House delegation since 2015, gave his victory speech surrounded by supporters at a hotel watch party in Charles Town in West Virginia's eastern panhandle, where he lives. McKinley was watching the results come in at home with his family.
West Virginia’s election was the first of five primaries in which two incumbent U.S. House members will compete against each other. It will be followed by similar contests in Georgia and Michigan and in two Illinois districts.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.