As McKinley, 74, braces for re-election, his plans are less certain. A McKinley spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A McKinley-Mooney primary could shatter along some of the GOP’s major ideological fault lines. Mooney is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and has a more conservative voting record. McKinley, first elected in 2010, voted to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol and against objections to the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania by from some supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
Mooney, 50, hinted he plans to make those comparisons.
“Our nation needs more fighters than ever to grapple with the radical left trying to make America a socialist nation,” Mooney said. “As a proud member of the Freedom Caucus, a steadfast supporter of President Trump and son of [a] Cuban refugee, I will not back down in this fight for the future of America.
The third quarter fundraising reports due this week will bring a clearer financial picture, but Mooney likely has the edge. He had $ 2.5 million at the end of the last quarter, compared to $ 500,000 for McKinley.
The prospect of this delicate battle has been looming for months, if not years. West Virginia lost its third district in the redistribution, and none of the three outgoing members said they were ready to retire. Republican Rep. Carol Miller, 70, has the southern region alone in District 2 under the new map.
In perhaps an acknowledgment of his vulnerability in a GOP primary, McKinley took an active role in promoting a map that would divide the two handles of the state into two different districts. This would have left him alone in the north and pitted Mooney and Miller in the south.
McKinley has stepped up his fundraising efforts for a 2022 race, according to sources close to him, and he has closer ties to the state’s political establishment.
Mooney is widely believed to be eyeing a 2024 race against Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and is likely hoping to avoid a brutal primary battle that could deplete his cash reserves and tarnish his image.