Alexander Mooney, Jim Jordan

Rep. Alex Mooney wins West Virginia GOP primary

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — In an early victory for a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate at the start of midterm season, Rep. Alex Mooney on Tuesday beat fellow incumbent Rep. David McKinley in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District Republican primary.

“Donald Trump loves West Virginia, and West Virginia loves Donald Trump,” Mooney said in his victory speech.

McKinley was sharply criticized by the former president when he broke with his party as one of 13 Republicans to vote with the Democrats to support President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Trump called McKinley a RINO, or “Republican in Name Only” and endorsed Mooney the day Biden signed the infrastructure law.

The two incumbents, who have taken dramatically different approaches to their time in office, were pitted against each other in the state’s 2nd Congressional District after population losses cost West Virginia a U.S. House seat.

West Virginia’s election was the first of five primaries in which two incumbent U.S. House members will compete against each other. It will be followed by similar contests in Georgia and Michigan and in two Illinois districts.

READ MORE: 2022 West Virginia Primary Election Results

The race was one of the most-watched on the day’s ballots. The primary came on the heels of a victory by Trump-endorsed conservative JD Vance, author of the bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” who defeated six other candidates to win the Ohio Republican primary for U.S. Senate last week.

Earlier Tuesday night, Trump-endorsed incumbent U.S. Rep. Carol Miller breezed to the Republican nomination in West Virginia’s 1st District, defeating four little-known candidates and setting herself on a clear path to reelection.

Miller will vie for her third term in the House in the fall against Democrat Lacy Watson, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Watson, of Bluefield, lost in the 2020 Democratic primary in the former 3rd District.

In West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District general election, Mooney will face openly gay former Morgantown city councilor Barry Wendell, who bested security operations manager Angela Dwyer during Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Mooney enters the general election as a heavy favorite to win. West Virginia hasn’t elected a Democrat to the House since 2008.

Associated Press writer Grant Schulte in Omaha, Nebraska, contributed to this report.