Hoppy Kercheval, Opinion

Alex Mooney does not expect Trump’s endorsement

Rep. Alex Mooney’s run for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate just got more difficult. Mooney said this week he does not believe he will get the endorsement of Donald Trump, according to CNN.

“Mooney told CNN on Monday that he visited with Trump twice seeking his endorsement and he believes it’s ‘pretty clear’ he’s unlikely to win his backing — though he said the former president ‘never said that he would or wouldn’t’ back him.”

Mooney, who is in a race with Gov. Jim Justice and long-shot Chris Rose for a chance to fill the seat now held by Democrat Joe Manchin, needs help. A recent poll shows Mooney way behind Justice.

The poll of Republican and Independent voters in West Virginia released by the state Chamber of Commerce earlier this month found Justice favored by 56% of those questioned while only 19% backed Mooney.

Mooney is more conservative than Justice and historically Mooney has been able to count on Trump’s support. The former president backed Mooney over David McKinley in the 2022 Republican Primary in the newly created 2nd District.

“Representative Alex Mooney has done an outstanding job as Congressman in West Virginia. In fact, he recently opposed the horrendous Biden administration’s ‘Non-Infrastructure’ plan, and he opposed the January 6th Committee, also known as the Unselect Committee of partisan hacks and degenerates,” Trump said at the time.

However, this race is different because of Justice who has built a personal relationship with Trump and his family. Trump affectionately refers to the governor as “Big Jim.” Justice and Trump were on stage together in Huntington in 2017 when Justice announced he was switching from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

Mooney told CNN that came up in his conversations with Trump. “He (Trump) more just impressed upon me that Jim Justice party switched for Trump at a rally, and that he feels some loyalty to Mr. Justice for that purpose,” Mooney said.

Mooney also had a strike against him with Trump because the Club for Growth PAC is backing Mooney and has raised more than $13 million for his campaign. Politico reports, “An outside group with ties to the conservative Club for Growth has formed an effort to stop former President Donald Trump from winning the nomination.”

Chris LaCivita, a Trump campaign senior consultant, called the Club for Growth “swamp dwellers.”

Trump has twice won overwhelmingly in West Virginia — by 42 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and by 39 points over Joe Biden in 2020. Trump’s endorsement and down ballot influence are difference makers.

Mooney told CNN that when it comes to the issues, he is closer to Trump than Justice. “I’m much more in line than my opponent,” he said. That may be true, especially as the Trump faction of the Republican Party leans harder to the right, which is where Mooney resides.

The best Mooney can hope for now is that Trump stays out of the West Virginia Senate race all together, but that seems unlikely, especially given Trump’s personal fondness for Justice.

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