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Mooney Defeats McKinley; Pillen Wins in Nebraska

Former President Trump has his hands in many upcoming elections, Nebraska and West Virginia's results showing the pull he does and doesn't have in the outcomes. 

West Virginia

In the first of potentially six incumbent paired contests of the 2022 post-redistricting election cycle, US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) scored a double-digit win over fellow Congressman David McKinley* (R-Wheeling). West Virginia lost one of its three seats in reapportionment, hence the reason for the two Republicans facing each other.

The campaign became nasty when both candidates unloaded upon the other in a series of negative ads. Rep. Mooney centered his attacks around labeling Rep. McKinley a “RINO,” Republican In Name Only, for his support of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill and voting in favor of establishing the January 6th special investigatory committee.

Toward the end, with polling correctly showing Rep. Mooney substantially ahead, Rep. McKinley focused on his opponent being under a House Ethics Committee investigation and went so far as to photo shop a picture of his opponent in a prison jumpsuit with a prison cell in the background.

All of Rep. McKinley’s current district was contained in the new 2nd CD, but only half of Mr. Mooney’s territory. Former President Donald Trump backed Rep. Mooney after McKinley supported the infrastructure package, which appeared to even the advantages. With polling correctly projecting a Mooney win, the four-term West Virginia Congressman who previously served in the Maryland state Senate recorded a convincing 54-36% victory.

In the new southern West Virginia 1st District that contains all of Rep. Carol Miller’s (R-Huntington) current 3rd CD and half of Mr. Mooney’s current WV-2 district, the two-term incumbent easily won re-nomination against a field of three GOP opponents. The Congresswoman recorded a 66% victory and becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-election in November.

Nebraska

The media is leading with the point that former President Donald Trump’s Nebraska gubernatorial candidate, rancher and company CEO Chuck Herbster, lost his primary battle to rancher and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen. The fact that eight women, including a state Senator, accused Mr. Herbster of sexual harassment long after the Trump endorsement was announced likely was the more critical factor in how the race ended.

For his part, Mr. Pillen had the support of term-limited Gov. Pete Ricketts, former US Congressman and ex-University of Nebraska championship head football coach Tom Osborne, former Gov. Kay Orr, the Nebraska Farm Bureau, and Americans for Prosperity, thus demonstrating a wide range of conservative and institutional backers.

The winning contender defeated Mr. Herbster and Omaha state Sen. Brett Lindstrom in a close 33-30-26% result to claim the Republican nomination. Mr. Pillen will be a heavy favorite in November against the new Democratic nominee, Bellevue state Sen. Carol Blood.

Republican turnout was substantially up, approximately 53%, when compared to the 2018 midterm election. Democrats also increased their participation rate but only in the 6% range.

Both party endorsed candidates easily won their respective congressional nominations in the vacant 1st District. Norfolk state Sen. Mike Flood captured the Republican nomination with 73%, and Lincoln Democratic state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks became her party’s nominee with an 87% score. The two will square off in a June 28th special election to fill the unexpired portion of the current term.

Former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln) resigned his seat at the end of March after being convicted for campaign finance violations in a California court. Regardless of how the special ends, both Sens. Flood and Pansing Brooks will face each other in the regular general election. In a R+17 First District according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, Mr. Flood has the inside victory track in the special and regular general elections.

US Reps. Don Bacon* (R-Papillion/Omaha) and Adrian Smith* (R-Gering) were easily re-nominated last night in their respective primary elections. Both posted over 75% of the vote. Mr. Bacon, in a competitive 2nd District, will now face Omaha state Senator Tony Vargas, while Rep. Smith drew farmer David Else as his general election opponent in the expansive 3rd CD. The NE-3 seat stretches the width of Nebraska from the Wyoming and Colorado borders on the west all the way to the Iowa state line in the east.


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