The Republican-on-Republican blood feud developing in West Virginia is only over a single House seat, but the outcome of Tuesday’s primary between Representatives David McKinley and Alex Mooney will signal the direction of a potential Republican majority in Congress: Will it be a party of governance or one purely of ideology, driven by former President Donald J. Trump?
Redistricting and West Virginia’s shrinking population forced the state’s Republican Legislature to pit Mr. McKinley, a six-term Republican with a pragmatic bent, against Mr. Mooney, who has served four terms marked more by conservative rhetoric than legislative achievements.
Mr. McKinley has the backing of much of the state’s power structure, including its governor, Jim Justice, and, in recent days, its Democratic senator, Joe Manchin III. Mr. Mooney, however, may have the endorsement that matters most: Mr. Trump’s — in a state that gave the former president 69 percent of the vote in 2020.
Neither candidate could exactly be called a moderate Republican, but Mr. McKinley thought his primary bid would be framed around his technocratic accomplishments, his support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was co-written by Mr. Manchin and his attentiveness to a state used to — and still in need of — federal attention.