Can A GOP Congressional Primary Be ‘Almost Hell, West Virginia’?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Stephanie Murray’s ever lively Politico Weekly Score, when I came across this item about two GOP congressmen pitted against one another by West Virginia’s latest redistricting.

TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS — Republican Reps. Alex Mooney and David McKinley are waging a brutal primary battle in West Virginia, after redistricting slashed the number of House seats in their home state.

The McKinley-Mooney battle is one of five member-on-member primary match-ups this cycle caused by the once-in-a-decade redrawing of congressional maps. West Virginia lost a House seat, pitting the incumbent Republicans against one another in the May 10 primary.

The House colleagues, now opponents, wasted no time getting nasty on the airwaves. Mooney has attacked McKinley as a “RINO” and a liar in TV ads, while McKinley went on the air calling Mooney a “political prostitute” and a carpetbagger. Both have tied their opponent to President Joe Biden, and highlighted their own ties to former President Donald Trump. Mooney has so far spent $686,000 on TV ads, while McKinley has spent $598,000.

What the hell, Doc – RINO/liar vs. prostitute/carpetbagger? What happened to misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye?

– Mountain Mama

Dear Mama,

Yeah, those teardrops have turned into a bloodbath in this Mountain State donnybrook.

Start with Alex Mooney’s ad Breathe Free.

Not to get technical about it, but the spot is essentially fact-free outside of Mooney’s self-proclaimed family history and Trump’s endorsement.

David McKinley’s TV spot (for some unknown reason not available on YouTube) is even more venomous, albeit slightly more fact-based. Here’s the transcript.

The portrait of a political prostitute, Mooney, an opportunistic career politician who has never had a job outside of politics. He’s run for office in three different states. Mooney moved to West Virginia from Maryland so he could get elected to Congress. Now Mooney is under federal investigation for violating the law. Maryland Senator Alex Mooney – out for himself, not West Virginia.

Except . . . Mooney hasn’t been a Maryland state senator for a decade. Then again, he has run for office in three states. According to Wikipedia, “In 1993, Mooney received his B.A. in philosophy from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, he ran for the New Hampshire House of Representatives in Grafton County‘s 10th District. He finished in last place with 8% of the vote.”

As for that “federal investigation for violating the law,” the Charleston Gazette-Mail’s Mike Tony reported that Mooney is facing double trouble on the ethics front.

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.VA., is the subject of a matter under review by the House Ethics Committee following a second referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics regarding the four-term congressman.

The House Ethics Committee announced [last month] that it is continuing a review of Mooney regarding a matter that was transmitted to the bipartisan committee by the independent, nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics on Dec. 22. The committee did not specify the matter and noted that the referral and the committee’s review did not mean a violation took place.

The House Ethics Committee already was investigating Mooney for allegedly using campaign money for personal expenses, which would be a violation of federal law.

According to Politico’s Murray, six weeks from primary day “plenty of GOP primary voters are still up for grabs, according to a recent poll. McKinley led Mooney by 5 percentage points in a North Star Opinion research poll conducted for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, although 25 percent of voters were undecided. McKinley had 38 percent and Mooney had 33 percent.”

The Doc’s diagnosis:  This is gonna get way more hellish before it’s over.