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Alex Mooney Rides Trump Endorsement to West Virginia House Primary Win


Representative Alex Mooney defeated a House colleague and fellow Republican, David McKinley, in a primary in West Virginia that again proved each the facility of an endorsement by former President Donald J. Trump and the burden that right-wing ideology holds with Republican primary voters.

Mr. Mooney, a four-term House Republican known more as a conservative warrior than a legislator, used Mr. Trump’s endorsement to beat a definite drawback: The redrawn district he was running in included way more of Mr. McKinley’s old district than Mr. Mooney’s.

The massive margins Mr. Mooney was in a position to run up within the fast-growing counties from his old district along the Maryland state line proved too great for Mr. McKinley, and the result was called on Tuesday night by The Associated Press.

Mr. Mooney had blanketed the state with radio and television advertisements that featured Mr. Trump offering him the previous president’s “complete and total endorsement,” while slamming Mr. McKinley for voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and for a bipartisan commission to look at the Jan. 6 attack.

Mr. McKinley had the backing of West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, and its Democratic senator, Joe Manchin III. And he had hoped the infrastructure bill can be an asset, not a liability, in a state used to — and in need of — federal support. But that seemed to be a miscalculation, as West Virginia can be a spot that gave Mr. Trump 69 percent of the vote in 2020.

By turning the first right into a contest between a Trump-focused partisan and an incumbent running on his record of legislating, the 2 Republicans elevated the race for the Second District into something of a signal of how a possible Republican House majority might govern next yr. In the long run, ideology won out easily.

The Club for Growth, a conservative political motion committee that split with Mr. Trump within the Republican Senate primary in Ohio but in addition backed Mr. Mooney in West Virginia, was exultant.

“The results of this bellwether race is a transparent sign that Republicans want their members of Congress to be real conservatives versus moderate RINOs,” said the group’s president, David McIntosh, using the acronym for “Republicans in name only,” a conservative slur.

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