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GOP congressmen defending seats in West Virginia contests

November 1, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Three Republican congressmen are defending the GOP’s clean sweep of West Virginia’s U.S. House seats in the last election.

In 2014, Republicans clinched every House seat from West Virginia for the first time since Warren Harding’s presidency in 1921. Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito also won, leaving Sen. Joe Manchin as the last remaining Democrat in Congress from West Virginia.

Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins each face Democratic challengers on Nov. 8. Here’s a look at those races.


After deciding against running for governor, McKinley has a strong advantage as he seeks a fourth term representing northern West Virginia. The engineer from Wheeling faces Democrat Mike Manypenny, a hemp farmer who served three terms as a state House delegate before losing his re-election in 2014. McKinley has enjoyed a huge cash advantage by raising more than $1 million for the race, while Manypenny has yielded only about $21,200 and has reported a negative cash balance in his campaign account. Manypenny, a Grafton resident, is endorsed by the Sierra Club environmental group. In addition to support from conservative and business groups, McKinley has endorsements from the United Mine Workers of America and the state’s Building and Construction Trades Council.

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Mooney is facing former longtime Democratic state lawmaker Mark Hunt in his first House re-election campaign. In 2014, Mooney won a crowded GOP primary before taking the seat Capito left to run for Senate. Mooney, a former lawmaker and state party chairman in Maryland, moved to Charles Town shortly before announcing a run in the West Virginia district that stretches from the western border through Charleston to the Eastern Panhandle suburbs of Washington. Hunt, a Charleston attorney, previously spent 14 years as a state lawmaker, lost a congressional race in 2006 and initially filed to run for attorney general this election. Mooney has spent $762,400 on the race, with $407,000 cash left in late October. Hunt has spent $373,800 through late October and has put $270,300 of his own money into the race. He had $70,500 cash remaining, but said he expected to use $500,000 total of his own money by Election Day. The race’s endorsements have split largely down traditional lines: Unions are largely supporting Hunt, while advocates for socially conservative causes and some business interests back Mooney.

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Jenkins is seeking his second term in a seat that snakes from Huntington down through the southern coalfields. Jenkins, who switched from Democrat to Republican before announcing his 2014 congressional bid, faces former U.S. Secret Service Agent Matt Detch, a Democrat. Jenkins is the top fundraiser in West Virginia’s House delegation, with more than $1.2 million in campaign donations and $721,500 left in the bank. Detch, a Greenbrier County resident, has only raised about $18,600 and spent about $8,200 of it. Detch has been narrowly outspent by the third-party candidate in the race, Libertarian Zane Lawhorn, a Princeton resident. In the coal-focused district, Jenkins has endorsements from the West Virginia Coal Association and the United Mine Workers of America. Detch is endorsed by former West Virginia Secretary of State Ken Hechler.

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