CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Two sitting Republican U.S. representatives are looking to hold on to their seats, representing West Virginia in the red state’s shrinking congressional delegation.
U.S. Reps. Alex Mooney and Carol Miller face challenges Tuesday from lesser-known Democratic and Independent candidates with no political experience in a state controlled by Republicans at every level of government. West Virginia hasn’t elected a Democrat to the House since 2012 and was one of only two states where former President Donald Trump won every county in 2016 and in 2020.
In a closely watched May primary race, Trump-endorsed Mooney beat veteran lawmaker Republican Rep. David McKinley to become the GOP nominee for the 2nd Congressional District. The incumbents were pitted against each other after population losses cost West Virginia a U.S. House seat. McKinley faced criticism for breaking with his party to support President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
Miller, another Trump ally, easily breezed to the Republican nomination in West Virginia’s 1st District in May, defeating four little-known candidates. Miller has represented West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District — which was eliminated in redistricting — since 2018.
In Tuesday’s race, Mooney faces former Morgantown city councilor Democrat Barry Wendell. The two candidates are both Maryland transplants — but that’s where the similarities end.
Wendell is an openly gay Jewish man who supports access to abortion and investing in clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels.
Mooney, who has represented West Virginia in Congress since 2015, is a member of the most conservative voting bloc in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is adamantly opposed to abortion and policies that would hamper West Virginia’s coal industry. He has said he believes marriage is between “a man and a woman.”
Miller faces challenges from Democrat Lacy Watson and Independent Belinda Fox-Spencer. Watson is an instructor at Bluefield State University. Fox-Spencer, who filed to run after the primary, is a small business owner. She worked in health care for 20 years as a diagnostic medical sonographer, specializing in women’s health.