Manchin-Endorsed GOP Rep. Got Ass Whooped In West Virginia Primary
Donald Trump scratched another name off his enemies’ list Tuesday night after GOP Rep. David McKinley lost his primary race to Rep. Alex Mooney, who Trump endorsed because he wasn’t McKinley. West Virginia lost a congressional seat in the 2020 census because a lot of people either moved away or just plain died, and that left McKinley and Mooney fighting it out for the new Second Congressional District.
It also offered an opportunity for Trump to inflict pain on McKinley, who committed heresies against MAGA. He voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which Trump hated because he didn’t sign it himself. Worse, McKinley voted to create a bipartisan January 6 commission like a common RINO who thinks it’s wrong that Trump’s violent mob attacked the Capitol.
McKinley lost Tuesday’s primary so badly he needed hugs from at least two mothers. Mooney crushed him by almost 20 points. Of course, Mooney had Trump’s support in a state the former president carried in 2020 by close to 40 points. McKinley had to settle for a campaign ad from Senator Joe Manchin, who’s not even officially a Republican.
PREVIOUSLY: Good Old Joe Manchin So Happy He Crapped Over Joe Biden’s Domestic Agenda
Manchin got testy with Mooney in the ad, calling him a liar who only cares about himself. That’s a consistent character description for most of Trump’s endorsement picks. Manchin talked up McKinley’s opposition to Build Back Better, which Manchin personally tanked last year. This is hardly a MAGA credential because no Republicans supported Joe Biden’s socialist scheme to feed hungry children and keep the planet from catching fire. McKinley was toast because of his infrastructure bill vote. Washington Post columnist James Hohmann wrote yesterday that McKinley’s loss "best illustrates why President Biden’s governing theory has failed.”
Harsh, but here’s his explanation:
When Biden ran for president in 2020, his central rationale was that he could yoke the two parties together and pass bipartisan legislation. He called President Donald Trump an “aberration” whose influence would quickly dissipate, and he believed friendships forged during almost 50 years in Washington would allow him to break the fever in ways President Barack Obama never could. “You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends,” Biden predicted in New Hampshire.
Last summer, after cutting a deal with Senate Republicans that would lead to passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Biden claimed vindication. He mocked fellow Democrats who called him naive for believing the two parties could bridge their divides.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill should’ve been a slam dunk for Republicans: Their broke-ass states would receive billions in federal dollars. West Virginia specifically could use that money for its literally crumbling roads and bridges. USA Today framed the primary as a test between Trump’s clout and the importance of infrastructure. GOP voters took the petty path.
McKinley helped bring billions of dollars to West Virginia. Mooney obeyed orders from the mad MAGA king, and now Mooney is on his way back to Washington, DC. The state’s voters have no reason to expect Mooney will do anything constructive for them beyond opposing Biden’s every move. This is what West Virginia Republicans wanted. They have zero interest in “bipartisanship,” and Joe Manchin — Mr. Bipartisanship — has to read today’s election news with some mounting alarm about his own political future.
Yes, Manchin currently enjoys a high approval rating in the state, but his usefulness to Republicans will greatly diminish when he’s not actively obstructing a Democratic Senate. Back in early 2021, Senators Susan Collins, John Thune, and Rob Portman reportedly pleaded with Manchin to switch parties and thus keep the Senate under GOP control. I loathe Manchin but appreciate that this would’ve been a disaster, so good on him for not completely screwing America.
Portman later retired like a coward who knew he couldn’t win a GOP primary. That’s Manchin’s dilemma, so there’s even less reason to fear he’d take a step to the Right and officially join the GOP. He’s as stuck with Democrats as we are with him. We rise or fall together.
[The Atlantic / Washington Post / USA Today]
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."