Few — if any — West Virginia Republicans who spoke to Newsmax on Tuesday night doubted Donald Trump's endorsement propelled Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., to a big primary win in the newly carved 2nd District.
"The Trump factor was very important," former State GOP Vice Chairman Lynn Staton told us after it became clear Mooney handily beaten fellow Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.
Mooney's victory (54% to 36% for McKinley) is the all the more impressive when one considers roughly two-thirds of the redistricted 2nd District came from McKinley's former district and only one third from Mooney's.
Along with burnishing Trump's credentials as a political kingmaker, Mooney's victory was also a blow to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Last week, Manchin stunned political observers by weighing in with a strong endorsement of McKinley.
A lifelong conservative activist and fervent supporter of Trump, Mooney (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 89.73%) had supported the 45th president's agenda down the line. He voted against accepting the results of the 2020 election and the $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill backed by President Joe Biden.
McKinley, 75, was considered more moderate (lifetime ACU rating: 62.67%) than his colleague. He supported the infrastructure bill — a reason Manchin cited for crossing party lines to endorse McKinley — and voted to create the House Jan. 6 Select Committee.
Trump himself drew the sharp contrast between the two Republican lawmakers in endorsing Mooney.
"Mooney has done an outstanding job as congressman in West Virginia," Trump said. "In fact, he recently opposed the horrendous Biden administration's 'non-Infrastructure' plan, and he opposed the Jan. 6 committee, also known as the Unselect Committee of partisan hacks and degenerates."
Joining Trump in backing Mooney over McKinley was the conservative Club for Growth, which launched an independent expenditure on behalf of the more conservative lawmaker.
"Alex Mooney's voting record over the last eight years has been in alignment with the voters of the 2nd District," former GOP State Sen. Jill Upson told us. "I am so glad that he ran on his record and glad that President Trump recognized his commitment to policies that put the people first."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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