Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), the Tea Party-backed candidate in the crowded Republican primary in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, easily won his party’s nomination in Tuesday’s election.
With 85 percent of the precincts reporting, Mooney leads with 35 percent of the vote. Pharmacist Ken Reed is in second place with 22 percent. Five other candidates split the remainder of the vote.
Mooney, former chairman of the Maryland GOP, moved to West Virginia in 2012 in order, he said, “to live in freedom.” He promised voters to “fight Obama to preserve it.”
Several major national Tea Party groups endorsed Mooney, including Tea Party Express, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Madison Project. In addition, several conservative groups, including Gun Owners of America and Citizens United, also endorsed him.
Advertisements funded by several of these national groups focused on Mooney’s conservative credentials.
“He’s never supported a single tax increase, and he will fight to repeal Obamacare,” one radio ad paid for by the Senate Conservatives Fund said.
Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ called Mooney “a ‘boat rocker’ like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that will stick to his principles – even when it means taking on his own Party when its leaders forget who elected them.”
Several key local Tea Party activists also supported Mooney. Malcom Kildale and Michael Holz of the Blue Ridge Patriots Tea Party in Berkeley County, Douglas Skinner of the Potomac Patriots Tea Party in Morgan County, and Wade Caskey of the Kanawha Valley Tea Party all endorsed Mooney.
The 2nd Congressional seat opened up when the incumbent, Sen. Shelley Capito (R-WV), decided to run for the Republican nomination for the state’s U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retirement of Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
Capito easily won her primary and will face Democratic primary winner Natalie Tennant in November. Many analysts believe Capito has an excellent chance to move the seat into the Republican column, increasing the chances of a Republican takeover of the Senate.
Some Democrats hope that Mooney may be a weaker general election Republican candidate than Capito in the 2nd Congressional District race. Capito was not considered vulnerable had she chosen to run for the Congressional seat again. Former Democratic State Party Chairman Nick Casey won the Democratic primary and will face Mooney in November.