Former Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney won the Republican nomination Tuesday night in the race to replace seven-term Rep. Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia's 2nd District.
Capito is vacating the seat to run for the Senate. Strategists from both parties agree that this seat could be a potential Democratic pickup in the fall. The race is currently rated Leans Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Mooney carried 33 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race at approximately 9:33 p.m. Self-funding pharmacist Ken Reed led former U.S. International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane by about 100 votes at the time of the call. Each candidate had about 20 percent of the vote with 57 percent of precincts reporting.
Mooney has long sought a seat in Congress, considering a 2012 bid to replace his former boss, ex-Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland, when it was unclear if the Republican would seek re-election.
But many state and national Republicans are jittery over whether a tea party candidate in a state so reliant on federal funds can be viable, along with the fact that Mooney crossed state lines to run for Congress.
He will face former Democratic State Party Chairman Nick Casey, who did not face a competitive primary, in November.
Capito easily cruised to her nomination in the Senate race, as did her Democratic rival, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
In the state's other high-profile House race, 19-term Democratic Rep. Nick J. Rahall II will face Republican state Sen. Evan Jenkins in the Tossup race for West Virginia's 3rd District.