CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., credited his longstanding relationship with Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., as a factor behind his endorsement of the six-term congressman’s campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
The McKinley campaign released an advertisement last week with Manchin, in which the Democratic senator criticized McKinley’s colleague and opponent, Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., for attacking McKinley’s record.
“Alex Mooney has proven he’s all about Alex Mooney,” Manchin says. “But West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us.”
During an appearance on Monday’s “MetroNews Talkline,” Manchin referenced his first encounter with McKinley when both men were serving in the West Virginia Legislature.
“Our relationship goes back to 1982,” he said. “I come into the House of Delegates as a freshman, and the first person that walks over and introduces himself is David McKinley from Wheeling. We just kind of hit it off, and we’ve been friends ever since.”
Manchin and McKinley have shared moments in their political careers; both ran for governor in 1996 and lost. Manchin would serve as secretary of state and governor before becoming a U.S. senator in November 2010. McKinley joined the House of Representatives three months later.
“It’s just been a long friendship,” Manchin said. “I know David, and I trust David. He’s all about West Virginia. Everything he has ever done all of his life has been about how can we improve the state of West Virginia. We’ve had many, many conversations when I was governor and a senator, and working back-and-forth trying to help our state.”
Manchin said he did not second-guess the opportunity to support a Republican; he endorsed Maine Sen. Susan Collins in her 2020 re-election effort, and he previously announced his support for Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski as she runs for another term.
“I know that in today’s toxic atmosphere, maybe that’s unexpected,” he said Monday.
Manchin’s support for McKinley comes with West Virginians already voting in this year’s primary election. McKinley and Mooney were placed in the same congressional district during last year’s legislative redistricting efforts. McKinley is a native of Wheeling, while Mooney moved to Charles Town in 2013 after gaining political experience in Maryland.
Mooney has criticized McKinley for backing last year’s infrastructure law, contending the vote allowed the House to pass a sweeping domestic policy proposal. McKinley opposed the Build Back Better framework, as did Mooney and Manchin.
“I’m watching the ads saying David McKinley has been voting for reckless spending, and I know they are referring to Build Back Better,” Manchin said Monday.
“When I heard references that David was for wild spending, I’m thinking this is not fair. There are many reasons to be for somebody or against somebody, but don’t use untruths. It’s just an outright lie, and I said that.”
Manchin added he “didn’t know Alex that much.”
“Alex came here, I think, for political opportunity. I can’t think of any other reason, but other people do it, too. I don’t approve of it, but I understand. People have to make their decisions, and he’s been elected. I recognize that, and I try to work with him the best I can,” he said.
Gov. Jim Justice has also endorsed McKinley, citing McKinley’s vote for the infrastructure bill while critiquing Mooney’s political experience and current leadership.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Mooney in November; he noted the infrastructure law and McKinley’s support for creating a commission to investigate the January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol as reasons. The Mooney campaign on Monday announced a telephone rally with Trump, which will take place Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The final day of West Virginia’s early voting period is Saturday. Election Day is May 10.