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Rep. Alex Mooney is projected by the Associated Press as the winner in the GOP congressional primary in West Virginia’s 2nd District in a battle with fellow Republican Rep. David McKinley.
And while former President Donald Trump wasn’t on the ballot, his prestige within the GOP was very much on the line in a bitter contest between two incumbent lawmakers, as Trump had endorsed Mooney.
“I Love West Virginia. Congratulations to Alex Mooney on his BIG WIN!!!” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social.
West Virginia lost a congressional seat during the once-in-a-decade congressional reapportionment, and Mooney and McKinley were drawn into the state’s newly refigured 2nd District.
The race partially turned into a test of the former president’s status as the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party, nearly 16 months removed from the White House.
It was the second major victory for a Trump-backed candidate in a heavily contested GOP primary, following JD Vance’s win last Tuesday in a crowded, combustible, and very expensive Republican primary in the race for Ohio’s open Senate seat.
At his victory celebration, Mooney told supporters “the voters of West Virginia spoke loud and clear tonight.”
And the congressman thanked Trump for “his endorsement and support of my campaign – when Donald Trump puts his mind to something, you better watch out.”
Mooney touted on the campaign trail and in ads that he was the “only candidate Trump trusts to defend our values” and criticized McKinley as a “RINO” and a “sellout.”
Mooney repeatedly attacked McKinley for voting in favor of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law – one of President Biden’s domestic achievements, which will bring plenty of federal dollars to West Virginia, a state badly in need of infrastructure improvements. And Mooney targeted McKinley for supporting the creation of the Democratic-controlled House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by right-wing extremists aiming to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump.
Mooney told Fox News on Tuesday morning that Trump’s endorsement matters in the race. “Voters understand that he endorsed me,” Mooney said. “I think it makes a big difference.”
McKinley in his latest ad charged that Mooney, who’s currently facing twoi ethics investigations, was “desperate” and a “fraud.”
“Mooney opposed Trump’s wall four times; opposed Trump’s plan to ban fentanyl from China; opposed Trump’s plan for veterans,” the moderator in McKinley’s spot claimed.
While the former president didn’t hold a rally for Mooney in West Virginia, he invited the congressman to speak this past Friday at a rally in neighboring Pennsylvania.
McKinley enjoyed the backing of two-term Republican Gov. Jim Justice.
And in an interesting twist, longtime moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a former two-term governor with universal name ID in West Virginia, crossed party lines to star in a new ad on behalf of McKinley.
In the spot, Manchin accused Mooney of lying about McKinley and charges “Alex Mooney has proven he’s all about Alex Mooney, but West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us.”
Fox News’ Jake Karalexis contributed to this report