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West Virginia 2nd District Rep. Alex Mooney made the pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago last Friday and, after an hour-long meeting with former President Donald Trump, came away with a prized endorsement.

“Representative Alex Mooney has done an outstanding job as Congressman in West Virginia,” Trump said in a statement. “In fact, he recently opposed the horrendous Biden Administration’s ‘Non-Infrastructure’ plan, and he opposed the January 6th Committee, also known as the Unselect Committee of partisan hacks and degenerates.”

West Virginia is losing one of its three congressional districts. The redistricting puts Mooney, R-W.Va., and 1st District Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., in a new district that includes the Northern and Eastern panhandles and north-central West Virginia. Each has announced plans to run in 2022.

Trump is popular in West Virginia. He carried every county in the last election and defeated Joe Biden here by 40 points. Mooney said Tuesday on “Talkline” that he will remind voters of the Trump endorsement at every opportunity.

“I can’t imagine a situation where I wouldn’t use it, to be honest with you,” Mooney said. And he believes the Trump blessing makes him the favorite in next year’s primary election.

“I think this endorsement from President Trump basically makes it impossible for him [McKinley] to win a primary against me,” Mooney said.

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But, in politics, saying something is “impossible” just means it hasn’t happened yet. McKinley has deep roots in West Virginia, unlike Mooney, who moved to West Virginia from Maryland prior to the 2014 election.

McKinley also has established GOP credentials from his four years as Republican Party chairman and 14 years in the West Virginia House of Delegates. McKinley has served in Congress since 2011.

McKinley also has a geographic advantage, since he already represents 65% of the Republican voters who are in the new district. However, that brings us back to the Trump endorsement.

Most of those Republicans are Trump supporters, or at least they were in the last election. A MetroNews West Virginia Poll in August found that 67% of Republican voters in the state do not believe the presidential election was legitimate, despite no evidence of fraud.

“They still feel Trump was a much better president than Joe Biden,” Mooney said. “It’s a big deal, and I think you’ll see it in just about every ad.”

Donald Trump will not be on the ballot in the West Virginia 2022 primary election, but Alex Mooney is going to try to ensure that voters are at least thinking about him when they go to the polls.

Hoppy Kercheval hosts “Talkline,” on MetroNews.

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