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Manchin throws support for McKinley in 2nd District primary

CHARLESTON — With less than 10 days until Election Day, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin expressed his support for Rep. David McKinley in the May 10 Republican primary for the new 2nd Congressional District over Rep. Alex Mooney.

In a TV ad released over the weekend and on YouTube, Manchin praised McKinley for opposing “reckless spending” and attacked Mooney for trying to tie McKinley to President Joe Biden’s failed Build Back Better social spending package. All three voted against the $1.85 trillion proposal last Fall.

“I’ve always said if I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it, and that is why I opposed Build Back Better,” Manchin said in the ad. “For Alex Mooney and his out-of-state supporters to suggest that David McKinley supported Build Back Better is an outright lie. David McKinley has always opposed reckless spending because it doesn’t make sense for West Virginia.”

“Alex Mooney has proven he is all about Alex Mooney,” Manchin continued. “West Virginians know that McKinley is all about us.”

The McKinley campaign claims the Mooney campaign tries to muddy the waters by linking McKinley’s vote for the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November with the Build Back Better social spending plan. McKinley was one of only 13 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who voted for the infrastructure bill, with Mooney and 3rd District Congresswoman Carol Miller opposed. Both Manchin and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., supported the infrastructure bill and participated in its negotiations with the White House.

“Manchin is uniquely credible to talk about opposing (Build Back Better). I mean, he put a knife in it on national TV,” said a source close to McKinley. “Joe and David don’t agree on a lot of things. David is a conservative Republican and Joe is a moderate Democrat. But they both had the same position on Biden’s social spending and take offense at someone from outside West Virginia lying about this.”

Mooney took to his Facebook page Saturday to attack Manchin’s endorsement of McKinley, calling McKinley a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and criticizing both for voting for the infrastructure bill and the failed bill to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump to stop the certification of the 2020 election for Biden.

“Further proof David McKinley is a complete and total RINO. Democrat Joe Manchin is endorsing him,” Mooney said. “Joe Manchin and David McKinley both supported Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion non-infrastructure bill. They also supported the sham Jan. 6 witch hunt investigation against Donald Trump and his allies. Manchin even voted for Trump’s impeachment. It is not surprising that Joe Manchin and the Democratic Party want to defeat a principled conservative like me.”

Manchin served with McKinley in the West Virginia House of Delegates in the mid-1980s on opposite sides of the aisle. Both went to Congress around the same time, with McKinley winning election to the House after former 1st District congressman Alan Mollohan lost the Democratic primary to Michael Oliverio, a former state senator from Monongalia County. Manchin, then the governor of West Virginia, won a special election for U.S. Senate to succeed Robert C. Byrd, who died earlier that year.

According to a Morning Consult poll released last week, Manchin has an approval rating of 57 percent with West Virginia voters for the first three months of 2022, up from 40 percent during the same period in 2021, a 16-point increase during the first year of Biden’s presidency.

Despite being the state’s only elected statewide Democrat, the Morning Consult poll found Manchin doubled his support among state Republican voters to 69 percent. Sources in the McKinley camp said this tracks with their own numbers.

“In our polling, Manchin has consistently been in the mid to high 60s favorables among Republican primary voters. Yes, among Republican PRIMARY voters,” the source said.

Capito said last week that she would not issue an endorsement in the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary, but she did express her praise for McKinley’s infrastructure vote. Mooney was endorsed by Trump last year, who issued a new statement last week confirming his endorsement. McKinley was endorsed by Gov. Jim Justice in January, who Morning Consult polling found to be the fourth most popular governor in the nation.

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