3 members, 2 seats: West Virginia Republicans brace for redistribution showdown
State lawmakers are feeling the pressure – and saying they do not appreciate their role as king.
“I’m on a first name basis, and I know every member of the Congressional delegation,” said GOP Del State. Chris Pritt. “It can get very, very embarrassing. “
The state is currently made up of three districts stacked vertically, but due to low population growth it lost one of its three House seats during redistribution. So far, state lawmakers have come up with dozens of ways to condense them. But the most likely outcome would leave Miller, who represents the southern third of the state, in a district on his own.
The state legislature met on Monday for a special session to set political boundaries. The map that advanced to the State Senate links the Northern Enclave (where McKinley lives) with the Eastern Enclave (where Mooney lives). It will now be subject to approval by the entire state Senate.
The question now is whether the State House will adopt a similar card or whether it will divide the state differently and force the upper house to negotiate. The first action there is expected this week.
A north-south split is very likely. Still, McKinley pushed for a competing plan, which state GOP sources say has gained traction, which would split the two handshakes. His reasoning: to separate Morgantown, home to the University of West Virginia, and the Eastern Enclave, which are among the fastest growing areas in the state.
“I don’t think it would be beneficial to put all areas of growth in the 1st arrondissement,” McKinley said in the “Talkline” podcast last month with reporter Hoppy Kercheval of WV Metro News. The southern part of the state, McKinley noted, is in a declining population and is not expected to have its own district.
“Let’s not leave the south alone,” he said. “I think they need a helping hand.
His interest may also be driven by the instinct of self-preservation: his favorite card probably pits Miller and Mooney against each other.
Regardless of the dividing line between the state’s two remaining districts, both will almost certainly remain in Republicans’ hands. But the political future of the incumbents weighs heavily on state legislators.
“When we go from three to two, no matter how you divide the pie, someone will likely be unhappy,” Del said. Steve Westfall, GOP member on the redistribution committee.
“They are all active now,” he added. “So I don’t think we’re ready to quit yet.”
Two incumbents will soon have to balance the prospect of a brutal limb-to-limb primary with their long-term goals.
In 2024, GOP Gov. Jim Justice will be for a limited time, and vulnerable, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is for re-election. No one wants to do anything that could prevent a race for either office.
And each would bring a different baggage – and strength – to the fight.
Former Maryland state senator, Mooney traveled to West Virginia to run for Congress in 2014, overcoming carpet bag attacks to win a costly and bitter primary battle. In the House, he’s probably the most conservative of the three and the only one to join the House Freedom Caucus.
His war chest is huge. He was sitting on $ 2.5 million at the end of June. (McKinley had $ 500,000 and Miller only had $ 126,000.)
Mooney is generally thought to be interested in challenging Manchin. A mean primary with another incumbent would deplete his considerable resources and rack up his negatives. Some state officials are speculating he could retire in 2022, announce a challenge in 2024 against Manchin, and then spend the next three years fundraising and running for voters across the state.
But a spokesperson for Mooney said on Monday he was absolutely a candidate for re-election – even if he had to challenge one of his colleagues.
McKinley, 74, probably has been the loudest of the three in his attempt to sway the legislature towards a specific card. He has stepped up his fundraising efforts in recent months, sources close to him say, a sign he is not ready to retire.
A seventh generation resident of Wheeling, it is very likely that it occurs in the district that includes the northern enclave, which separates Pennsylvania and Ohio. But as the most centrist of the three, he also has reason to fear a controversial GOP primary. His biggest liability: to vote to certify the election of Joe Biden in Arizona and Pennsylvania, and for an independent commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
McKinley, first elected in 2010, also served the longest and has a close relationship with Charleston state lawmakers who might be more open to his favorite card.
“He pushed this idea of separating the growth areas, and it went like wildfire,” said a West Virginia GOP political agent, on condition of anonymity to put it bluntly. “I think people were already looking for a reason to reward him and not to reward Alex Mooney.
Unlike McKinley, Mooney’s roots lie elsewhere. Prior to moving to West Virginia, Mooney was President of the State of Maryland GOP. Its chief of staff is a senator from the state of Maryland.
Miller, who was elected in 2018 after a dozen years in State House, also has allies in the legislature. She sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and chairs the recruitment of the Republican National Committee of Congress, which gives her an additional hiding place in Washington.
She won a crowded open-seat primary in 2018 and is no stranger to tough races. (As a bison breeder, she used “cut the bull” as a campaign slogan). another holder. Miller has no plans to hit Mooney or McKinley and will leverage his pro-Trump record if necessary, according to a source close to his campaign.
Mooney only objected to the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania – not Arizona.
“I am a 100% candidate for re-election,” Miller said in a statement. “My mission in Congress is to bring investment and opportunity to West Virginia, and my constituents, regardless of the final lines, can count on the fact that I will never stop fighting for them.”