Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

TRUMP AND THE GOP ; W.Va. Reps. Wait to Commit

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

TRUMP AND THE GOP ; W.Va. Reps. Wait to Commit

Article excerpt

INSIDE: World ponders Trump 7C

Only one of West Virginia's four Republicans in Congress has firmly committed to supporting the Republican nominee for president. With Donald Trump firmly ensconced as the front-runner in the Republican primary race, West Virginia's three Republican congressmen all would support Trump for president over a Democrat, while Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito made no firm statement on who she would support for president.

Of the three congressmen, only Rep. Alex Mooney, who represents the 2nd District, said he would support the Republican nominee no matter what.

Reps. David McKinley and Evan Jenkins said they would support the Republican over a Democrat, but, when pressed, each declined to rule out the possibility that they could support a third-party candidate.

Capito hedged her bets even more.

"She has always supported the GOP nominee, Capito spokeswoman Ashley Berrang said. "She intends to support the GOP nominee, but would like to see how the primary process plays out.

Trump won seven of the 11 states that voted or caucused on Super Tuesday, further solidifying his lead in the primary process.

Of the four West Virginia Republicans, only Mooney, who is the state chairman of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign, has endorsed a candidate for president.

McKinley and Jenkins pointed to energy issues in confirming their preference for a Republican (without ruling out a third-party candidate).

"Based on the Republican candidates' statements in support of coal and natural gas, any of them would be a better alternative than who the Democrats are offering, McKinley spokesman Mike Hamilton said.

Jenkins said the presidential election is about "a vision to stop President Obama's war on the state of West Virginia.

"Any Republican candidate is better than Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Jenkins said. "I will support the Republican nominee, assuming they don't turn their back on the policies and priorities that are critical to West Virginia. …

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