Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is publicly backing a moderate Republican lawmaker in a U.S. House primary that pits two incumbents in West Virginia. The senator appeared in a campaign ad released on Friday, supporting Representative David McKinley over his Trump-endorsed opponent, Representative Alex Mooney.
In the 30-Second commercial, Manchin said McKinley “has always opposed reckless spending because it doesn’t make sense for West Virginia.” The Democrat added that Mooney “proved he’s all about Alex Mooney. But West Virginians know that David McKinley is all about us.
The ‘reckless spending’ argument comes as McKinley claims Mooney is misleading voters about the former’s vote for President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Mooney voted against it and, in an ad, attacked McKinley for “backing Biden on a trillion dollar spending spree.”
“I always said if I couldn’t go home and explain it, I couldn’t vote for it. And that’s why I opposed Build Back Better,” Manchin said in McKinley’s announcement, adding that for Mooney “and his out-of-state supporters to suggest that David McKinley supports Build Back Better. is an outright lie.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Mooney the day Biden signed the infrastructure bill. In response to McKinley’s announcement, Mooney tweeted that his opponent is “a complete and utter RINO” because Manchin is backing him.
“They also supported the bogus January 6 witch hunt investigation against Donald Trump and his allies,” Mooney continued on Twitter. “Manchin even voted to impeach Trump.”
McKinley’s campaign released the ad just days before the May 10 Republican primary in West Virginia. The two incumbent Republicans face off after West Virginia’s population losses resulted in one fewer seat for the state in the United States House. With the new congressional map, McKinley and Mooney are vying to represent the state’s 2nd congressional district, a hot red zone that most national Democrats have effectively stopped fighting for.
Manchin’s appearance in the ad comes amid questions about whether the centrist Democrat – who has made it very difficult for Biden to embrace his sweeping political agenda – has considered switching parties. Two journalists from the New York Times write in their next book that Manchin told Senate Republican No. 2 John Thune that he would change his party affiliation if the South Dakota lawmaker was the Senate Republican leader.
“They always joke back and forth” Manchin pushed back Thursday. “They would love for me – I said, ‘Guys, look, I am who I am, I’m a Democrat from West Virginia. “”