Trump-backed Mooney defeats McKinley in W. Virginia House primary
Rep. Alex Mooney (R) on Tuesday defeated Rep. David McKinley (R) in the first member vs. member primary election this year for a West Virginia House seat, according to AP.
Why it matters: This is one of the dozens of competitive primaries where former President Trump put the strength of his endorsements in GOP primaries — a proxy for his control over the Republican Party — to the test.
- Trump endorsed Mooney, a member of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, after McKinley ignored his broadsides against the bipartisan infrastructure bill and voted for the legislation.
- The ex-president has staked his status as the GOP’s unquestioned leader on the power of his endorsement. His spokesperson told Axios in February his backing is “the most powerful and valuable asset in American politics”
- McKinley was one of just 13 House Republicans to vote for the bill, along with most Democrats.
The backdrop: Mooney and McKinley became "double-bunked" in one northern West Virginia district after the state lost a seat in congressional reapportionment.
- McKinley, a more mainstream Republican with a bipartisan streak, got rare cross-party support from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has a similar habit of bucking his party on major legislation.
- In addition to Trump, Mooney was backed by conservative groups like Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.
What's next: This is not the only member vs. member primary Trump has weighed in on.
- He's backing Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), another Freedom Caucus member, over Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), who's in the more moderate Republican Governance Group.
- He has also endorsed primary challengers to a number of Republicans he's deemed disloyal, particularly those who voted for his impeachment.
- Trump also enjoyed a major victory when J.D. Vance surged to victory in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio after his endorsement.