EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Alex Mooney, the first Republican to announce a bid against Sen. Joe Manchin in 2024, is eager to contrast his congressional voting record during the first two years of President Biden's White House tenure with that of the West Virginia Democrat.
Mooney, who represents West Virginia's second congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, told Fox News Digital that he is best positioned to show voters that Manchin's voting record on Capitol Hill has been by no means conservative.
'Manchin says what he believes West Virginia voters, who are fairly conservative, want to hear until it's no longer convenient for him as a loyal Democrat,' said Mooney. 'He's flip-flopped on a lot of issues, when he's not just plain old sitting on the fence.'
Mooney pointed to Manchin's position on the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the senator's public reversal on President Biden's $739 billion tax and climate change bill, named the Inflation Reduction Act. Manchin, who has claimed in the past to be pro-life, said after the Supreme Court's overturn of Roe that he would back legislation to codify abortion protections into federal law.
When it came to Biden's signature tax and climate change legislation, Manchin opposed the initial version out of concerns the bill would exacerbate inflation. The West Virginia Democrat reversed course after successfully pressuring the White House to lower the price tag from $3.5 trillion. Manchin's support was key to passing the measure by a party-line vote in the 50-50 Senate.
'Manchin says one thing, then goes on to do another,' said Mooney. 'Then he comes home to deep red West Virginia and makes excuses about how these were ‘hard votes.’ Well, he won't be able to do that against me, I've been in the House voting against Biden's 87,000 IRS agents and voting against new gun control laws.'
'He voted for all those things, and I voted against them,' added Mooney. 'It wasn't a difficult choice at all, and I'm likely the only one who will be running that can make that argument.'
Manchin's political team did not respond to requests for comment on this story. The West Virginia Democrat told Fox News last week that he believed there would be a big GOP primary for the chance to run against him in 2024.
'We'll just see how it goes. But, you know, I always wish everyone the best,' said Manchin.
Polls show that Manchin's approval rating has sunk since his decision to cast the key vote in favor of Biden's $739 billion Inflation Reduction Act in August.
An October poll by Morning Consult found that 51% of West Virginia voters disapproved of Manchin, while 42% approved. A similar Morning Consult poll from April of this year had Manchin's approval rating at 57%.
Mooney's decision to jump into the race comes after his own easy victory for a fifth House term this November. Despite winning the general election, Mooney faced a tough primary challenge earlier in the year from fellow GOP Rep. David McKinley.
Much of the race focused on McKinley's support for Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which Manchin helped negotiate, and his vote for a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Mooney won the primary, despite a last-minute endorsement of McKinley by Manchin.
'I was endorsed by Trump, and my opponent had Manchin's endorsement,' said Mooney. 'West Virginia Republicans showed which one they valued more.'