While McKinley, 74, has been preparing for re-election, his plans are less certain. A McKinley spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A primary in McKinley-Mooney could break along some of the prominent ideological GOP fault lines. Mooney is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and has a more conservative voting record. McKinley, first elected in 2010, voted in favor of setting up a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol and against objections to the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania by some supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
Mooney, 50, suggested he plans to make those comparisons.
“Our nation now more than ever needs warriors who will stand toe to toe with the radical left trying to make America a socialist nation,” Mooney said. “As a proud member of the Freedom Caucus, unwavering supporter of President Trump and son of [a] Cuban refugees, I do not want to back this fight for America’s future. ”
The fundraising reports for the third quarter of this week will bring a clearer financial picture, but Mooney is likely to have the edge. He had $ 2.5 million at the end of the last quarter compared to McKinley’s $ 500,000.
The prospect of this awkward battle has threatened for months, if not years. West Virginia lost its third district by redistribution, and none of the three sitting members say they are ready to retire. The Republican rep. Carol Miller, 70, has the southern part of the state to herself in the southern district under the new map.
In perhaps acknowledging its vulnerability in a GOP premiere, McKinley took an active role in pushing for a map that would divide the state’s two panhandles into two different districts. It would have left him alone in the north and put Mooney and Miller together in the south.
McKinley has intensified fundraising efforts for a race in 2022, according to sources close to him, and he has deeper ties to the state’s political establishment.
It is widely believed that Mooney is looking at a race in 2024 against Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and is likely hoping to avoid a brutal primary battle that could drain his cash reserves and ruin his image.