CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Roads, bridges and former President Donald Trump will come to mind for voters in West Virginia and Nebraska as they vote for congressional candidates in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
Two incumbent GOP congressmen, who have approached their terms in office dramatically differently, face off in West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district, one of the most-watched U.S. House primary of the election of the day. Rep. David McKinley and Trump-backed Alex Mooney were pitted against each other after West Virginia lost a seat in Congress based on 2020 U.S. Census results.
The West Virginia election is the first of five primaries pitting two incumbent members of the US House of Representatives against each other. Similar competitions will follow in Georgia and Michigan, as well as two districts in Illinois.
The primary follows a win by Trump-backed conservative JD Vance, author of the best-selling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, who defeated six other candidates last week to win the Ohio Republican primary for the US Senate. The West Virginia contest will once again test the former president’s clout if his own name is not on the ballot.
Nebraska voters on Tuesday will nominate candidates to fill the seat vacated by US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican who left office and ended his reelection bid after he was convicted by federal authorities of an illegal campaign donation to have lied to. Fortenberry’s name will continue to appear on the 1st congressional district ballot because he withdrew after a ballot confirmation deadline, but Sen. Mike Flood, a former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, appears to have the advantage over five other Republican candidates be.
Voters will also select nominees for Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district in the Omaha area. Three-year Republican Rep. Don Bacon faces a protracted challenge from Steve Kuehl, an Omaha aide who received a salute from Trump when the former president was visiting earlier this month.
Trump recently called Bacon a “bad guy” during a state rally and previously criticized him for supporting a federal infrastructure bill that most GOP lawmakers have opposed. Bacon has also been mildly critical of Trump in the past, saying the former president bore some responsibility for the Jan. 6 riots in the US Capitol.
However, Trump stayed far from officially endorsing Kuehl, saying, “I think Steve will do well. Good luck Steve, whoever you are.”
Nebraska Democrats will nominate either Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas or Alisha Shelton, an Omaha psychotherapist, to challenge Bacon in the 2nd, the state’s only competitive district.
In the rural, geographically sprawling 3rd congressional district, Republican US Rep. Adrian Smith faces a challenger who is expected to win his party’s nomination. Two Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination within the district, which is predominantly Republican.
In West Virginia, incumbent Rep. Carol Miller is expected to retain her seat in the 1st congressional district against four Republican challengers.
In the state’s 2nd congressional district, where McKinley and Mooney are battling for the GOP nomination, openly gay former Morgantown councilman Barry Wendell is up against safety superintendent Angela Dwyer in the Democratic primary.
Mooney has attacked McKinley for voting with 12 other House Republicans in President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Trump, who won every single district in West Virginia in two presidential elections and said Republicans who voted in favor of the infrastructure bill should be “shamed of themselves,” endorsed Mooney on the same day Biden signed the infrastructure bill into law.
Rep. David McKinley, a civil engineer by trade, received endorsements and praise from US Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and GOP Gov. Jim Justice for his infrastructure vote. He said it was time to put party politics aside to serve the needs of his constituents.
“It wasn’t for Joe Biden — it was to help West Virginia,” he told the Associated Press.
Associated Press writer Grant Schulte of Omaha, Nebraska contributed to this report.
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/05/10/trumps-clout-factors-into-us-house-races-in-wva-nebraska/ Trump’s clout plays a role in the US home races in W.Va., Nebraska