Trump-Backed Candidates Win Again, This Time in West Virginia

Endorsements from former President Donald Trump are continuing to pay dividends to the GOP candidates who receive them, as evidenced in a pair of primary races Tuesday evening in West Virginia.

In the first race, Rep. Alex Mooney defeated fellow incumbent Rep. David McKinley in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, The Associated Press reported.

“Donald Trump loves West Virginia, and West Virginia loves Donald Trump,” Mooney noted in his victory speech.

The AP said that the Mooney-McKinley race was one of the most closely watched:

McKinley was sharply criticized by the former president when he broke with his party as one of 13 Republicans to vote with the Democrats to support President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Trump called McKinley a RINO, or “Republican in Name Only” and endorsed Mooney the day Biden signed the infrastructure law.

The two incumbents, who have taken dramatically different approaches to their time in office, were pitted against each other in the state’s 2nd Congressional District after population losses cost West Virginia a U.S. House seat.

McKinley, who has represented the state in the House since 2011, said in a statement Tuesday night that serving the people of West Virginia had been the honor of his life — and made a subtle reference to the infrastructure vote.

“I’m proud that I have always stood up for what’s right for West Virginia — even when it hurt me politically,” he said. “The groundwork we have laid over the last twelve years has paved the way for a more prosperous and diverse West Virginia economy.”

In a second state GOP primary, Trump-backed incumbent U.S. Rep. Carol Miller easily won the Republican nomination in West Virginia’s 1st District after she beat four lesser-known candidates, putting herself on a clear path to reelection in the deep-red enclave.

Susan Smith, a small-business owner in Valley Grove, W. Va., said she had voted for Mooney at a local elementary school Tuesday morning. She told the AP that she lives in McKinley’s former district and said she always cast a ballot for him, but not this time.

“When Mr. McKinley started voting with the Democrats and the current administration, that’s when things changed,” said Smith, who cited McKinley’s vote for Biden’s infrastructure bill and the Jan. 6 commission. “I’m sorry to be losing a congressman, but we cannot have a Republican congressman voting with the Democrats. West Virginia did not need the money from this un-infrastructure bill.”

Meanwhile, the victories continue Trump’s thus-far unbeaten endorsement record.

When Trump endorsed noted author J.D. Vance out of a fairly crowded field of GOP hopefuls vying for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman, critics thought perhaps the former president was making an error in judgment given that Vance was polling towards the bottom of the pack.

But in the week following that endorsement, Vance’s stock rose dramatically and he wound up pulling off the victory, and by a healthy margin.

“I’ve got to say, a lot of the fake news media — and there are there are some good ones in the back there, and there are some bad ones too, let’s be honest — but they wanted to write a story that this campaign would be the death of Donald Trump’s America First agenda,” the candidate said in his victory speech. “Ladies and gentlemen, it ain’t the death of the America First agenda.”

“MAGA patriots from across the nation are set to deliver an election landslide for Republicans that will serve as a devastating rebuke of the failures of Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats. In the Great State of Ohio, the candidate most qualified and ready to win in November is J.D. Vance. We cannot play games. It is all about winning!” the former president said in his endorsement.

“It is time for the entire MAGA movement, the greatest in the history of our country, to unite behind J.D.’s campaign because, unlike so many other pretenders and wannabes, he will put America First. In other words, J.D. Vance has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will not let you down. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he added.

Reporting from The Conservative Brief.