Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is publicly backing a moderate Republican lawmaker in a U.S. House primary that pits two incumbents in West Virginia. The senator appeared in a campaign ad released Friday, supporting Rep. David McKinley over his Trump-endorsed opponent, Rep. Alex Mooney.
Within the 30-second ad, Manchin said McKinley “has all the time opposed reckless spending since it doesn’t make sense for West Virginia.” The Democrat added that Mooney “has proven he’s all about Alex Mooney. But West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us.”
The argument of “reckless spending” comes as McKinley claims that Mooney is misleading voters in regards to the former’s vote for President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law. Mooney voted against it, and in a single ad attacked McKinley for “backing Biden for a trillion-dollar spending spree.”
“I’ve all the time said if I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it. And that’s why I opposed Construct Back Higher,” Manchin said in McKinley’s ad, adding that for Mooney “and his out-of-state supporters to suggest David McKinley supported Construct Back Higher is an outright lie.”
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Mooney on the day Biden signed the infrastructure bill into law. In response to McKinley’s ad, Mooney tweeted that his opponent is “a whole and total RINO” because Manchin is supporting him.
“Additionally they supported the sham January sixth witch hunt investigation against Donald Trump and his allies,” Mooney continued on Twitter. “Manchin even voted for Trump’s impeachment.”
Joe Manchin and David McKinley each supported Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion non-infrastructure bill. Additionally they supported the sham January sixth witch hunt investigation against Donald Trump and his allies. Manchin even voted for Trump’s impeachment.
— Alex Mooney (@MooneyforWV) April 30, 2022
McKinley’s campaign released the ad just days before the May 10 Republican primary in West Virginia. The 2 incumbent Republicans are facing one another after West Virginia’s population losses resulted in a single less seat for the state within the U.S. House. With the brand new congressional map, McKinley and Mooney are fighting to represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District, a securely red area that almost all national Democrats have effectively stopped fighting for.
Manchin’s appearance within the ad comes as questions arise about whether the centrist Democrat — who has made it very difficult for Biden to pass his sweeping policy agenda — has considered switching parties. Two Latest York Times reporters write of their forthcoming book that Manchin told No. 2 Senate Republican John Thune that he would change his party affiliation if the South Dakota lawmaker were the Senate Republican leader.
“They’re all the time kidding forwards and backwards,” Manchin pushed back on Thursday. “They’d love for me — I said, ‘Guys listen, I’m who I’m, I’m a West Virginia Democrat.’”