Two Republican Nominees Battle It Out in West Virginia…One Endorsed by Jim Justice, the Other by Donald Trump

Kristi Blokhin /

West Virginia, home to the infamous Joe Manchin, is the state to watch. With some of the worst roads and highways in the nation, Democrats are counting on Biden’s infrastructure plan to give them some clout. But that’s all they have to count on.

On the other side of the mountain, Republicans are banking on a state that’s jam-packed full of Trump loyalists. Bear in mind how this is West Virginia where allegiances are taken seriously. Re: The Hatfields and those good-for-nothin’ McCoys. Very little has changed in the Mountaineer State where pride runs deep. 

The litmus test comes next week when Republican Reps. Alex Mooney and David McKinley test the waters in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District primaries. WV gave Trump a huge bear hug in both of his presidential races, but is that rock still rolling?

West Virginia’s population losses cost the state a seat in the U.S. House. Better opportunities and more progressive lifestyles lie outside of its borders. So, the question remains, are there enough hardcore conservatives left in the state, and are they willing to overlook the other problems they’re forced to contend with?

It appears as though enthusiasm for Trump hasn’t waned in the least, despite being ranked as having the worst infrastructure in the nation. Crumbling roads and unsafe bridges litter the majesty of the state’s rugged landscape where thousands still can’t get internet service or safe drinking water in their homes.

The seventh-generation WV native, McKinley, is wrong in claiming that the water in his state never hurt anyone. Hell, he grew up there and he’s just fine. This past July, three children were hospitalized for dangerously high lead levels of lead in their blood from the water they were mixing their Kool-Aid with.

This prompted a study that found over 4,000 customers with high levels of lead being pumped into their homes. The cost to replace the lines? $52 million at the lowest. 

Even so, things used to be far worse before Mooney came on board. West Virginians want to continue seeing the same progress Mooney has already provided and works endlessly to continue providing. Of course, infrastructure is important, but it falls in line with the other issues that Mooney’s had to tackle one by one, some of greater importance.

Here’s the test. From the very day Joe Biden implemented his $1.2 trillion infrastructure law, Trump has strongly supported Mooney by endorsing him every step of the way. He’s not fond of McKinley and the other twelve Republican lawmakers who sided with Democrats to help pass the bill.

In no uncertain terms, Trump told them, “Republicans who voted for Democrat longevity should be ashamed of themselves.”

Mooney, 50, left Maryland in 2014 to run for a Congressional seat in West Virginia. He has the distinction of being the state’s first Hispanic Congressman and he isn’t shying away from taking full advantage of Trump’s endorsement.

He said that McKinley is a “Republican in name only,” calling him a RINO. He said the man betrayed his fellow conservatives. The 75-year-old McKinley retaliated as best he could by saying that roads and bridges in West Virginia are too terrible to be “playing party politics.”

In an unexpected move, McKinley received an endorsement from Republican Gov. Jim Justice who, in the past, has always sided with Trump as one of his most staunch loyalists. 

Justice said it took “courage” for McKinley and the other Republicans to take such a bold stance in defense of what they thought was right. Trump has yet to comment but we all know he will. He’s thinking this one out first. Justice deserves more than just an off-the-cuff remark. 

Infrastructure improvements won’t be visible to residents in the state for a long time to come, and like most things in West Virginia, residents wonder if they’ll ever see any at all. They’re accustomed to disappointments and this is working for Mooney.

In an interview, Mooney said, “If you drive through West Virginia today, you’d think the (2020) election is still going on. [sic] There’s Trump flags everywhere, Trump signs – anti-Biden signs. It means a lot to voters.”

Now, we wait and watch. There’s a strong indication that Mooney will take home the nomination based on his previous performance, but this is politics where nothing is ever guaranteed. Look who our current president is. Nuff said.