The Republican incumbents have vastly outgained their Democratic challengers in contributions in West Virginia’s four federal races during this election cycle from July 2019 through Oct. 14, powered largely by political action committees while their opponents have eschewed corporate PAC money, relying instead on individual donations.
Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports show broad-based corporate support for the GOP officeholders, especially among groups in the health care and fossil fuel industries.
The campaign for Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., in her bid for a second six-year term in the Senate has collected and spent far more than that of Democratic opponent Paula Jean Swearengin, who has sworn off corporate PAC money in her second Senate campaign after finishing behind Sen. Joe Manchin in the 2018 Democratic primary.
The Capito campaign’s total contribution haul of $4,170,868 has consisted of a nearly even split between individual donations and committee contributions. The incumbent’s campaign has garnered support from a wide array of PACs for health care-related groups, including UnitedHealth Group Incorporated, the National Association of Dental Plans, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, the American Health Care Association, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association, the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Capito for West Virginia also received support from various energy and natural gas PACs, including those for Dominion Energy, Murray Energy Corporation, Exxon Mobil Group, Consol Energy and EQT Corporation, as well as the Chemours Company, whose CEO was sent a letter last week by Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., the chairman of the U.S. House’s subcommittee on the environment, raising concern about ongoing detections of a chemical linked to cancer in areas surrounding the company’s Washington Works facility in Parkersburg.
Swearengin is a supporter of Medicare for All, a plan for single-payer health care in the U.S. designed to give everyone access to any provider by nationalizing health insurance, and “Green New Deal” environmental reforms.
The Capito campaign has significantly outspent her opponent’s campaign as well, reporting $2,276,067 in disbursements, much of them on media, direct mail expenses and printing and delivery.
The Swearengin campaign reported collecting $1,582,846, virtually all from individuals, and spending $1,159,027, chiefly on strategic and fundraising consulting. Paula Jean for West Virginia reported contributions from actress and progressive activist Susan Sarandon and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition executive director Vivian Stockman.
1st Congressional District
Seeking a sixth two-year term, Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., has dwarfed Democratic challenger Natalie Cline in campaign contributions and spending, funded largely by committee contributions.
The McKinley campaign reported $998,384 in total contributions, $720,627 from committees, many of which represent health care or labor groups. His campaign has received contributions from PACs representing Mylan Inc., the American College of Rheumatology, the American Speech Language-Hearing Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Mine Workers of America Coal Miners.
McKinley’s campaign also received contributions from several energy group PACs, including those representing Dominion Energy and Duke Energy Corporation. The campaign reported spending $894,770, much of it going toward fundraising and strategy consulting.
Cline’s campaign reported collecting $76,727 in total contributions, almost all coming from individuals, and spending $71,478.
2nd Congressional District
Looking for a fourth straight two-year term after having served 12 years in the Maryland state Senate, Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., has mounted a campaign that has raised $1,782,225 in total contributions, more than three times as much money as that of Democratic challenger Cathy Kunkel.
More than a third of the Mooney campaign’s contributions came from committees, which largely represented insurance companies and health care industry groups. The Mooney campaign netted contributions from PACs representing Goldman Sachs Group, NASDAQ Inc., the American Medical Association, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Morgan Stanley, Prudential Financial Inc., the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.
The Mooney campaign also received contributions from several fossil fuel-related PACs, including Alliance Coal, LLC, Exxon Mobil Corp., Koch Industries, Inc., and the National Mining Association.
The Mooney campaign reported getting $121,608 in this election cycle from Take Back the House 2020, a joint fundraising committee that in turn reported transferring more than $46 million to affiliated committees this cycle.
Under FEC rules, committees are affiliated when they are established, financed, maintained or controlled by a single entity or by the same person or group of persons.
Kunkel’s campaign reported collecting $564,502 in total contributions and spending $544,570, substantially more than her fellow federal Democratic challengers. Kunkel has also pledged not to take corporate PAC money, instead relying on donations from individuals ranging from Sarandon and Stockman to Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Kunkel for Congress’s biggest expense was for video production.
3rd Congressional District
The campaign for a second two-year House term for Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., has received nearly 10 times as much in total contributions ($810,430) as that of Democratic opponent Hilary Turner ($84,969).
Turner has sworn off corporate PAC money, so her campaign contributions consist virtually entirely of individual donations, while the Miller campaign secured more in contributions from committees ($467,557) than individuals ($342,372). Among the PACs supporting Miller’s campaign have been those for fossil fuel-related groups like Exxon Mobil Corp., the National Mining Association, the American Gas Association and Koch Industries, Inc. Other Miller-supporting PACs represented the American Hospital Association, the National Automobile Dealers Association and the National Association of Realtors.
Like Cline and Kunkel, Turner supports Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.