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Mooney wins crowded GOP House primary; Capito, Tennant to face off in W.Va. Senate race

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    FILE: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. (ap)

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    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall speaks during a school dedication event at Oakvale Elementary School in Princeton, W.Va. (AP)

The former chairman of the Maryland GOP Alex Mooney claimed victory Tuesday night in a crowded Republican primary for West Virginia's 2nd District to replace Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who handily won the GOP primary for West Virginia's open Senate seat. 

Capito's planned departure from the House created the messy primary, with seven candidates vying for the nomination. However, in the end, Mooney emerged victorious and will face Democrat Nick Casey, the former state party chairman of West Virginia, in the fall.

In his appeal to voters, Mooney's campaign said he moved to West Virginia to "live in freedom, and he'll fight Obama to preserve it."

Meanwhile, veteran Rep. Nick Rahall handily defeated his primary challenger to win the Democratic primary for West Virginia’s 3rd District.

Rahall, who is seeking his 20th term in Congress and is considered one of the most endangered House Democrats, had a commanding lead over retired Army officer Richard Ojeda in early returns. 

He will face Republican state lawmaker Evan Jenkins, a former Democrat who switched parties last year, in the general election in the fall.

Voters also selected West Virginia’s Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Capito to face off in November for the state’s open Senate seat. The winner will replace veteran Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who is retiring.

Capito is heavily favored to win the general election, and currently has a 4-to-1 cash advantage over Tennant.

Tennant spent 12 years as a television reporter in West Virginia and was the first woman to serve as West Virginia University's Mountaineer mascot. She is counting on her allegiance to the coal industry to separate herself from President Obama.

West Virginia has never elected a female senator and hasn't sent a Republican to the Senate since the 1950s.

The Associated Press contributed to this report