Trump’s revenge tour of infrastructure vote divides Republicans in West Virginia House race

Trump endorsed Representative Alex Mooney after they met Friday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, a week after Mooney voted against the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. His GOP opponent, Representative David McKinley, voted in favor.

“It seals the deal,” Mooney told CNN, referring to his endorsement of Trump.

But McKinley, who has touted billions for roads and bridges in his state, said Tuesday his constituents and county mayors have been calling for such a program for years.

“They wanted infrastructure,” McKinley said.

Asked about Trump’s approval of Mooney, McKinley said, “I know, I saw this,” and walked into the House chamber.

The infrastructure law has divided the Republican Party, pitting entrepreneurial Republicans like McKinley against Trump and allied outside groups, who have been unwilling to give President Joe Biden a bipartisan accomplishment as he stands. debate in the polls.

It also became the last proxy war in the battle against Trumpism in the GOP, with Trump and his staunch supporters vowing revenge on Republicans who helped turn the measure into law – a victory that eluded Trump during his own presidency.

The bill had divided leading Republicans on the Hill, with Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell among the 19 GOP Senators to vote for, while Parliamentary Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy actively lobbied his colleagues to try to kill him.

“Seventy-five percent of Americans support infrastructure, unlike the other issues we’re talking about,” McConnell said Tuesday. “From a Kentucky perspective, it was extremely good for our state. I’m proud of my vote.”

A study in contrasts

In West Virginia, the contrasts between the two candidates are sharp.

McKinley, who voted with Trump more often than Mooney, has deeper roots in the state and currently represents the majority of a new district created after the state lost a seat due to its relatively slow population growth.
Meanwhile, Mooney, a member of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, voted against President Joe Biden more frequently, including the creation of a commission of inquiry into the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill, than McKinley argued. Mooney opposed the certification of Biden’s victory in 2020, unlike McKinley. Some GOP members believe Mooney is positioning himself to challenge Democratic Senator Joe Manchin when he is re-elected in 2024.

It’s unclear whether either of the men will fire shots while campaigning against their colleague. In a brief interview, Mooney said he “was just going to run for the job.”

But Trump’s involvement could energize the fight. The political arm of the House Freedom Caucus officially backs Mooney and attacked McKinley in a statement, calling him “the Beltway moderate who voted to create the Nancy Pelosi witch hunt on January 6”.

Mooney is now in a contest in 2022 against his colleague with much more campaign money and the backing of the most powerful Republican backer, Trump, who received nearly 69% of the vote in West Virginia last year. The Club for Growth PAC endorsed Mooney on Tuesday, and other groups are sure to follow.

“First all,” said Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, an ally of Trump, McKinley and the 12 other House Republicans who backed the infrastructure bill.

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McKinley isn’t the only one taking a hit for his infrastructure vote. Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, another staunch Trump supporter, tweeted the phone numbers of Republicans who supported the measure, leading to these offices receiving a flood of angry calls and even death threats. . Greene also said those 13 House Republicans should be primaries and excluded from their committee assignments.

“For our leaders to say, ‘No, we’re not going to kick them off committees,’ that’s a complete failure, and Republican voters are fed up,” Greene said.

Yet even some of Trump’s closest allies are repelling his attacks on the bill.

“I don’t agree with that,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said of Trump’s criticisms.

And some groups are coming to the defense of GOP supporters of the bill, applauding the massive investment in roads, bridges, transit, railways, broadband, airports, ports and railways. navigable across the country.

West Virginia Chamber of Commerce chairman Steve Roberts estimated the bill would send Mountain State about $ 4.4 billion, roughly the equivalent of its annual budget for l State, and congratulated McKinley, who was the only West Virginia House of Commons member to vote for.

“It will be a very meaningful vote for us,” he said. “I would have greatly appreciated if our members of Congress had voted in the best interests of West Virginia and not in their own political interests.”

An “embarrassing” situation

After the decade-long redistribution process, Republican leaders and other lawmakers in West Virginia are now in dire straits. Unlike Trump, most Republicans are reluctant to get involved in a party battle that could get messy.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise conceded that it was an “awkward” scenario to have two incumbents oppose each other. Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, head of the Republican National Committee of Congress, confirmed that the House GOP campaign arm will remain on the sidelines of the race. GOP Representative Carol Miller, the only other House member in the West Virginia delegation, bristled at the suggestion that she would pick sides in the race, telling CNN: “Of course I don’t. will not involve me! “

West Virginia GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who voted for the bill alongside Manchin, said: “I don’t appreciate it” when asked about Trump’s attacks on the Republicans who supported the bill. She praised McKinley on his vote, calling him a “seasoned lawmaker,” while saying she would remain neutral in the House race.

“David was brave to do it,” Capito said. “He knew what he was getting into when he took that vote because he believed in it. So he’s going to be ready to defend it.”

The primary elections between McKinley and Mooney will not take place until May 10, 2022. But both candidates took to MetroNews’ “Talkline” show in West Virginia last week to defend their positions. McKinley noted that US News and World Report rank its state last in terms of the quality of its transportation, energy and internet systems.

“Now is not the time for politics,” McKinley said. “Now is the time to do what’s right.”

McKinley also hit Mooney, a former Maryland state senator, saying, “I don’t know what the infrastructure in Maryland looked like.”

Mooney then appeared on the show and responded that the bill was not fully paid, pointing out that it would widen the federal budget deficit by $ 256 billion over 10 years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. He said McKinley’s treadmill attack was “unnecessary”.

When host Hoppy Kercheval said the race was already on, Mooney replied, “He started it.”


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