Tea Party's Alex Mooney Wins West Virginia GOP House Primary

Former Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney has won the Republican primary for West Virginia's second congressional district, according to the Associated Press, beating pharmacist Ken Reed and former U.S. International Trade Commissioner and state legislator Charlotte Lane.

With 74.9 percent of precincts reporting, Mooney had 35 percent of the vote to Reed's 22 percent, and Lane was running third with 18.4 percent.

Those were the three leading candidates, but it was a seven-way brawl to replace Rep. Shelley Moore Capito who is leaving her House seat to run for the Senate. This is a clear victory for the tea party as Mooney had their support.

Capito, who easily won her GOP primary for Senate this evening, decided not to endorse in what turned into a nasty primary race.

Both Lane and Reed tried to label Mooney has a carpetbagger, but he argued the district he served as a state senator for more than a decade in Maryland neighbors the West Virginia district and the two are similar. He faced his move to the state head on with a narrator in an ad last month saying he came to the state "to live in freedom and he'll fight Obama to preserve it."

Tea party groups quickly congratulated Mooney. The Senate Conservatives Fund, a group that works to elect conservative candidates, even trying to oust incumbents in several races, put in $95,000 supporting Mooney.

"Alex Mooney started out as the underdog, but won this race because he ran on conservative principles," SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins said in a statement.

The Tea Party Express also congratulated Mooney and said they too would work with him in the general election. And The Madison Project's director Drew Ryun said Mooney will "always fight for West Virginia's conservative values, even if that means bucking party leadership."

It's possible the heated and divisive primary means it could make it easier for Democrats to nab the seat in November. Former state Democratic Party chairman Nick Casey, backed by Sen. Joe Manchin, easily won his primary this evening.

Capito will face off against her Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who also won easily this evening. West Virginia has never elected a female senator.