If, that is, everyone tries to run again. In recent remarks to Politico‘s Ally Mutnick, Mooney was adamant that he’d seek another term, even if that meant an incumbent-vs.-incumbent battle, uttering the word “definitely” three times. McKinley, however, was far less committal, saying only, “We’ll take a look at the numbers, see what they look like” and declining to say whether he might retire.
Mutnick doesn’t appear to have inquired with Miller, but simple geography makes it more likely that McKinley and Mooney will wind up double-bunked. McKinley, 74, hails from Wheeling in the skinny northern panhandle that’s sandwiched between Pennsylvania and Ohio, while Mooney, 49, lives in the tiny city of Charles Town on the state’s easternmost tip. A two-district map is more apt to consolidate the two panhandles than to combine either with the southern opposite end of the state, which would leave Miller, who’s from the state’s southwestern reaches, with a district of her own.
Mooney has far more cash in the bank: almost $2.4 million, compared to just $400,000 for McKinley. But McKinley, at least, has far deeper ties to the state. Prior to running for Congress in the 2nd District in 2014, Mooney spent a dozen years serving as a state senator in next-door Maryland, until he managed to get ousted by a Democrat in 2010 despite the GOP wave.
After his loss, he served as state GOP chair, then moved across the state line in 2013 when Republican Shelley Moore Capito vacated her seat in the House to run for Senate. Despite his baggage, Mooney prevailed in a seven-way Republican primary the next year with 36% of the vote. His district-shopping, however, seemed to haunt him in the general election, which he won just 47-44—again, in spite of the red wave, and in spite of the district’s deeply conservative lean. Ever since, in fact, he’s always managed to underperform the top of the ticket, though he finally erased most of his deficit last year.
McKinley, meanwhile, has been in the House since winning his first election in 2010 after longtime Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan lost a primary challenge from his right to state Sen. Mike Oliverio (hey, it’s West Virginia). McKinley took 35% in the GOP primary to defeat five rivals, then defeated Oliverio by less than a point in November. Unlike Mooney, though, McKinley never struggled to win re-election following that initial race.
No matter what the cartographers decide, both of West Virginia’s new districts will remain heavily Republican, seeing as Donald Trump’s 69-30 win last year made the state his second-best, trailing only Wyoming. But how exactly the Mountain State gets split in two could nevertheless make a big difference, depending how much of Mooney’s and McKinley’s current turf winds up in their new district, versus how much gets siphoned off to Miller’s. While it’s by no means destiny, every politician in a situation like this would prefer that as many voters as possible in their new district already be familiar with them.
● FL-Sen: Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who has been considering a bid against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, said on Tuesday that she’s “getting close” to announcing a decision, though she didn’t offer a specific timetable.
● GA-Sen, GA-AG: In a piece analyzing why Republicans have yet to land a “superstar” eager to take on Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein reports that one more big name will apparently stay out: Attorney General Chris Carr, he says, is “gearing up to run for reelection” rather than launch a bid for the Senate. Two notable Democrats are vying for the right to face Carr next year: 2018 nominee Charlie Bailey and state Sen. Jen Jordan.
● NC-Sen: Rep. Ted Budd announced Wednesday that he would seek the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s open Senate seat, and he immediately earned the backing of his old allies at the far-right, anti-tax Club for Growth. Budd, who kicked off his campaign with a video filled with monster trucks and a warning that America was in danger of becoming a “woke socialist wasteland,” joins a primary field that includes former Gov. Pat McCrory and ex-Rep. Mark Walker.
Budd first emerged on the political scene when he competed in a 14-way primary for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District after it was redrawn following court-supervised redistricting. Budd, who owned a gun range, started the contest looking like just another Some Dude, but that perception began to change after the Club endorsed him. The organization ultimately spent $500,000 for Budd in a contest where none of the multitude of candidates deployed much money, and he beat his closest competitor just 20-10 after GOP lawmakers temporarily eliminated primary runoffs for that year due to the timing of redistricting.
Budd had no trouble winning the general election that fall against an underfunded opponent as Donald Trump was carrying his seat 53-44, but he faced a much tougher Democratic foe in 2018. Team Blue nominated Kathy Manning, a Greensboro philanthropist, in a contest that attracted heavy spending from both sides. The terrible political climate gave Democrats hope for an upset even in a seat this red, but Budd still prevailed 52-46.
Litigation prompted GOP lawmakers to redraw North Carolina’s House map again the next cycle, and this time, Budd wound up in a completely safe seat, which was also numbered the 13th District, in the rural central Piedmont region; Manning also sought and won a blue constituency in the Greensboro area. Budd had no trouble winning the primary or general, and he voted with the majority of his GOP colleagues to throw out the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania hours after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
● AK-AL: Republican Rep. Don Young, whose 48 years in the House make him the chamber’s longest-tenured member, says he will seek a 26th term next year. Young, 87, faced well-funded challenges from Democratic-aligned independent Alyse Galvin the last two cycles but turned them both back, the most recent by a 54-45 margin.
Last year, Hardy won a seat in the legislature by unseating state Rep. Al Jacquet in the Democratic primary 43-26, after an ugly campaign in which Jacquet slurred Hardy with an anti-gay epithet. (Hardy is not gay but said the insult was “personal for me” because he was raised by two mothers.) During that campaign, Hardy shot to prominence when, while serving on the City Commission in Lake Worth Beach, footage of him lambasting Republican Mayor Pam Triolo over the issue of cutting off utilities at the start of the coronavirus pandemic went viral.
Hardy is at least the fifth notable Democrat to join the race to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died earlier this month. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to set a date for the special election to fill Hastings’ seat.
● OH-15: Fairfield County Commissioner Jeff Fix is the latest Republican to join the special election for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, which is set to become vacant next month when GOP Rep. Steve Stivers’ resignation takes effect. In describing his interest in pursuing the post, Fix struck the sort of note that’s been greeted with disdain by Republicans for many years, saying, “There are too many people that are more interested in headlines than in getting the job done on both sides of the aisle.”
● TX-06: The extremist anti-tax group Club for Growth has endorsed conservative activist Susan Wright in the May 1 special election for Texas’ vacant 6th Congressional District, which was held by Wright’s husband, Ron Wright, until his death earlier this year. The Club has already spent at least $260,000 on ads attacking Republican state Rep. Jake Ellzey but hadn’t previously issued a formal endorsement of a particular candidate.
● Special Elections: Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s special election in Connecticut:
CT-HD-145: Democrat Corey Paris defeated Republican J.D. Ospina 76-24 to hold this seat for his party. This ends a run of three legislative special elections in two months in Connecticut and returns the chamber to full strength, with Democrats maintaining a 97-54 edge.
● Atlanta, GA Mayor: Former Mayor Kasim Reed said Wednesday that running for his old job is “not something that’s a part of my plans,” which isn’t quite a no. The candidate filing deadline is Aug. 20.
● New York City, NY Mayor: On Tuesday evening, a lobbyist named Jean Kim accused New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer of sexually assaulting her in 2001 when she was an intern for his unsuccessful campaign for public advocate that year. Stringer is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor in the June 22 primary.
Kim elaborated on her charges at a press conference on Wednesday, saying that Stringer “repeatedly groped me, put his hands on my thighs and between my legs and demanded to know why I would not have sex with him.” She said that she had not publicly said anything before because she was “fearful of his vindictive nature and that he would retaliate against me and destroy my career in politics.”
Stringer said Tuesday night when the story first broke that “these allegations are untrue and do not reflect my interactions with anyone, including any woman or member of my staff.” The next day, he acknowledged having an “on and off relationship over a few months” with Kim, though he disputed her characterization that she was an intern. Instead, Stringer described her as a “peer” who’d volunteered for his public advocate campaign, saying “She was 30 and I was 41.” An attorney for Kim said her client had never been in a consensual relationship with Stringer.
Stringer also said that he would remain in the mayoral race. State Sen. Jessica Ramos, though, announced that she was withdrawing her endorsement in light of Kim’s allegations.