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CHARLESTON — U.S. Reps. Alex Mooney and Carol Miller, two incumbent West Virginia Republicans backed by former President Donald Trump, won their respective primaries Tuesday.

Miller easily won the Republican nomination in West Virginia’s 1st District, defeating four little-known candidates and setting herself on a clear path to re-election.

Miller will vie for her third term in the House in the fall against Democrat Lacy Watson, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Watson, of Bluefield, lost in the 2020 Democratic primary in the former 3rd District.

According to Federal Election Commission records, Miller’s campaign raised more than $676,000, exponentially more than her GOP challengers combined: Scott Fuller of Kenova, James Edwin Houser of Mount Nebo, Zane Lawhorn of Princeton and Kent Stevens of Milton.

Miller had voted against the creation of a commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. She also voted against President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure bill.

Mooney defeated fellow incumbent Rep. David McKinley in the 2nd District GOP primary.

McKinley was sharply criticized by Trump when he broke with his party as one of 13 Republicans to vote with Democrats to support President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Trump called McKinley a RINO, or “Republican in Name Only,” and endorsed Mooney the day President Joe Biden signed the infrastructure law.

Mooney is seeking his fifth term. McKinley was seeking his seventh. Others candidates in the GOP primary were Susan Buchser-Lochocki of Morgantown, Rhonda Hercules of Wheeling and Mike Seckman of West Union.

Mooney will face the winner of the Democratic primary, former Morgantown City Council member Barry Lee Wendell.

West Virginia voters nominated candidates Tuesday in primaries for the U.S. House and the Legislature. The overall ballot in the midterm election may be smaller, but the voting landscape changed after the state’s once-a-decade redistricting was completed last fall. There are a dwindling number of seats contested by Democrats in a state that has turned sharply Republican.

West Virginia lost one of its three U.S. House seats based on results of the 2020 U.S. census, which showed a 3.2% decline in the state’s population over the past decade — the biggest drop of any state in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With no presidential, gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races this year, the lines at the polls were generally light. In nonpresidential election years, the primary election turnout statewide was 26% in 2018, 20% in 2014 and 24% in 2010.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, nearly 59,000 people voted early in person and about 3,900 returned an absentee ballot.

Among registered voters statewide, nearly 39% are Republican, about 34% are Democrats and 23% have no party affiliation. Other parties make up the rest.

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