Two GOP incumbents vow to run in redrawn West Virginia district

Redistricting in West Virginia is pitting two GOP House incumbents against each other in a newly drawn district, the first instance of the process forcing two lawmakers to run against each other as a result of new lines informed by the 2020 census. 

A new congressional map passed by the West Virginia legislature Thursday compressed the state's existing three districts down to two, forcing GOP Reps. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyMcBath to run in neighboring district after GOP redrew lines Trump backs one GOP lawmaker over another in West Virginia primary Lawmakers who bucked their parties on the T infrastructure bill MORE and Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier MooneyMcBath to run in neighboring district after GOP redrew lines Trump backs one GOP lawmaker over another in West Virginia primary Ethics watchdog finds 'substantial' evidence Rep. Malinowski failed to disclose stocks MORE to run against each other for the same seat, located in the north. Republican Rep. Carol MillerCarol Devine MillerTwo GOP incumbents vow to run in redrawn West Virginia district House lawmakers urge Paralympics to make personal care assistants essential staff Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE will not have to run against any other incumbent under the new map.

The map is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice (R), officially kicking off the intraparty feud.

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The race between the two lawmakers, who quickly announced their intentions to run for the new district, will fall along ideological fissures within the GOP.

McKinley, a 74-year-old seventh-generation West Virginian, is a bona fide centrist, recently voting to form the bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection. Mooney, meanwhile, is a conservative and member of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, though he only recently moved to West Virginia from Maryland, where he was a state senator and chair of the state Republican Party.

Those divides are expected to play out on the primary trail, with each touting their ideological alliances in their announcements. 

“As a seventh-generation West Virginian, I care deeply about the people who live here and have worked hard to give them a brighter future. From serving in Congress and the West Virginia Legislature to building the Republican Party as Chairman of the WVGOP to growing a business from scratch, creating thousands of jobs and investing in our community — I've always put West Virginia first,” McKinley said in a statement touting his state roots. “The people of the new Second District deserve a Congressman who delivers results, not just rhetoric.”

“Our nation now more than ever needs fighters who will stand toe to toe with the radical left who are attempting to turn America into a socialist nation,” Mooney said in his own statement. “As a proud member of the freedom caucus, unwavering supporter of President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE and the son of [a] Cuban refugee, I will not back down in this fight for the future of America.” 

It’s unclear who would have an edge in the new district, but in a tacit recognition of the vulnerability a centrist could have in ruby-red West Virginia, McKinley had advocated for a map that would have put Mooney and Miller in the same district and left him to run by himself. 

The ultimate loser in the GOP primary would have a shot of returning to the political scene in 2024 when Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinTrump haunts Biden vaccine mandate in courts IRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks MORE’s term is up, though Mooney in particular has reportedly been eyeing a run for the Senate seat.