MORGANTOWN — The Orange Seal of Approval apparently made a difference in the GOP primary race for the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District, where Trump-endorsed Alex Mooney handily defeated David McKinley, who was endorsed by Gov. Jim Justice and Sen. Joe Manchin.
Both are incumbents, with McKinley representing the current 1st District and Mooney representing the 2nd.
The final unofficial tally, pending canvassing, was 44,806 for Mooney, 29,442 for McKinley.
The common wisdom said McKinley had the geographical advantage. The new 2nd District covers 26 counties, including both panhandles. All but one of McKinley’s current 1st District counties are in the new 2nd District, while only eight of Mooney’s current 2nd District counties are in the new 2nd.
But Mooney won all but three counties: Marshall and Ohio, both in the Northern Panhandle, and Pleasants, situated on the Ohio River between Tyler and Wood, and part of the current 1st.
The McKinley vs. Mooney votes in those three were: Marshall, 1,352-1,118; Ohio (where McKinley lives), 2,667-1,459; and Pleasants, 432-422.
McKinley lost in the Northern Panhandle counties of Hancock and Brooke. McKinley also lost in the local north-central 1st District counties.
The McKinley-Mooney votes locally were: Monongalia, 2,288-2,324; Preston, 1,632-2,225; Marion, 1,721-2,058; Harrison, 2,244-2,305; Taylor, 717-836; and Wetzel, 433-500.
The three other GOP candidates didn’t gain enough total votes to act as spoilers. Susan Buchser-Lochocki received 3,297; Mike Seckman, 3,049; and Rhonda Hercules, 2,062. That’s 8,408 total, not enough to bridge the gap between the incumbents.
Buchser-Lochocki lives in Morgantown and her two biggest tallies came in Mon and Preston counties: 497 and 490 votes, respectively.
The D.C.-based political journal The Hill did some analysis of this race and talked about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which McKinley supports and which the Mooney-Trump camp used as a campaign weapon.
The Hill said, “The legislation is precisely the kind of bring-home-the-bacon accomplishment that lawmakers could traditionally count on to give them an edge, but in these current polarized times, primary voters cared less about roads and bridges and rewarded a conservative hard-liner who voted against the bill.”
Among several observations on the endorsement issue, The Hill said, “Ideological purity and Trump’s support overrode the endorsements from Justice and Manchin, two lawmakers who themselves remain overwhelmingly popular in their state.”
The McKinley and Mooney campaigns did not respond to requests for comment. The state GOP did, however, issue a statement Wednesday morning.
The party said, “Congratulations to the West Virginia Republican Party’s Congressional nominees, Congressman Alex Mooney and Congresswoman Carol Miller. We look forward to maintaining a 100% Republican House delegation in 2022. We extend a heartfelt thank you to Congressman David McKinley for his years of service to our state and country.”
Mooney will face Morgantown Democrat and two-time City Council member Barry Wendell.
Wendell defeated Martinsburg Democrat Angela Dwyer with 22,010 votes to Dwyer’s 16,493.
Dwyer won seven of the 26 counties, all in her Eastern Panhandle area: Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral and Morgan. Wendell took all the rest.
Wendell will be viewed as the underdog in the general election race. In 2020, the 1st District Democratic candidate received just 31.02% of the vote; the 2nd District candidate received 36.92%.
The Dominion Post spoke with Wendell on Wednesday following his victory.
He said, “I’m glad people voted for me. I want to do things to actually help people. Like the extended Child Care Tax Credit, capping the cost of insulin.”
The Mooney-McKinley race went negative quickly and Wendell is aware of that. He said, “I want this to be a polite campaign — not screaming at each other.” Wendell thanked Dwyer for running a polite campaign.
Thinking to the next phase of the campaign, Wendell said, “I go every place I’m asked to go. We’ll have signs and bumper stickers, and maybe ads in newspapers.”
TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp