Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney crushed anti-Trump Rep. David McKinley in the GOP primary for West Virginia’s redrawn 2nd Congressional District that saw McKinley, a Republican, endorsed by Democrat Senator Joe Manchin. Both candidates in the race are sitting U.S. Representatives but were drawn into the same district following the 2020 Census, which resulted in the state’s Congressional delegation being reduced from three seats to two.
West Virginia’s new Congressional maps effectively split the state down the middle, with West Virginia’s new 1st District being positioned in its southern half and its new 2nd District in the state’s northern half. The new district lines pitted two sitting Republican Representatives against each other in the GOP Primary, with 45th President Trump stepping in to back Rep. Alex Mooney and West Virginia’s Democrat Senator, Joe Manchin, wading into GOP politics in support of Rep. David McKinley, a Republican who publicly turned on President Trump after the January 6th protests of last year.
In 2021, as Democrats sought to paint election integrity demonstrators as terrorists and throw President Trump out of office for challenging election results in contested states, McKinley turned on his own party’s President, who was overwhelmingly supported by his constituents. Though he voted no on impeachment, he issued a scathing public statement against President Trump at the time, parroting the talking points of far-left Democrats and Republicans like Liz Cheney.
“Last week the nation watched as a violent mob attacked the Capitol, disrupting and delaying a vital step in our electoral process,” McKinley said in his January 2021 statement, going on to falsely claim that demonstrators “caused five deaths,” and that “President Trump bears responsibility for this.” In his statement, McKinley never once mentioned the Capitol Police shooting death of unarmed demonstrator and Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt.
Rep. David McKinley went on to break with his party and constituents once again after Joe Biden assumed office, becoming one of 13 Republicans to support the Democrats’ $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. The day Biden signed the legislation, Trump officially endorsed Mooney, effectively ending McKinley’s political career while dubbing him a “RINO.”
Earlier this month, Democrat Senator Joe Manchin waded into the race on the side of McKinley, defending him against accusations that he’d turned on his conservative constituents and sided with Joe Biden. Manchin’s involvement in the race reportedly gave hope to never-Trump Republicans that they could back an independent run by the Democrat in an effort to derail President Trump in 2024, but those hopes were dashed when Manchin’s candidate was soundly defeated,
McKinley ultimately won just three counties in the district, losing by more than 15,000 votes.