Hoppy Kercheval, Opinion

Powerful PAC commits big money to W.Va. races

Unless you follow politics very closely, news about the Club for Growth won’t mean much to you. However, take note because the organization is going to be a major player in the 2024 election in West Virginia. 

The Club for Growth is the largest unaffiliated political action committee in the country. This conservative PAC has become an increasingly important financier for Republican candidates across the country. It spent over $100 million in the 2022 election cycle. 

It claimed victory in “71% of our races on election day, far better than the Republican record when the red wave failed to materialize.”  

And now the Club for Growth is promising to spend big money in two of the biggest West Virginia races next year — U.S. Senate and West Virginia governor. 

The PAC has pledged up to $10 million on behalf of Rep. Alex Mooney in his race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Joe Manchin. Mooney will need that much, and more, just to win the primary if Gov. Jim Justice enters the race, as he is expected to do. 

But the Club is all in on Mooney, who they believe is more conservative than Justice. “He (Justice) would be in what we would call the moderate camp,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said of Justice in February as quoted in Politico, “so we wouldn’t support him in the primary.”  

Justice can self-fund, but only to a point. He needs and will get outside support. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Montana Sen. Steve Daines are personally recruiting Justice, and that means the PACs they are connected with will follow with money. 

The wildcard in the Senate race remains incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin. He has not yet announced his plans, but if it’s Manchin vs. Mooney or Manchin vs. Justice, it will be one of the top three or four Senate races in the country in 2024, and campaign money will pour into the state. 

Club for Growth has also pledged big money to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. He announced just last week that he is running for the Republican nomination for governor. Club for Growth, along with the Black Bear PAC, which supports Morrisey, have pledged “upwards of well over $10 million to help ensure his victory.”  

Morrisey was also considering a Senate run, but that would have forced the Club to pick between two candidates the organization likes or stay out of the race altogether. “The group’s president, David McIntosh, had expressed support for both Mooney and Morrisey and the Club held off on an endorsement while both considered a Senate bid,” reported Politico. 

Yes, issues matter in elections and candidates in high profile races will generate a fair amount of earned media through news coverage, but money for advertising and organizing is essential. The pledge by Club for Growth of at least $10 million each for Morrisey and Mooney indicates their campaigns will be well-funded. 

Hoppy Kercheval is a MetroNews anchor and the longtime host of “Talkline.” Contact him at hoppy.kercheval@wvradio.com.