Rep. Miller Survives Challenge, Riley Moore Advances in West Virginia GOP Primaries

Derrick Evans’ campaign fails to unseat three-term incumbent in one district while State Treasurer tops crowded field vying for open seat in the other.
Rep. Miller Survives Challenge, Riley Moore Advances in West Virginia GOP Primaries
Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.Va.,) testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 5, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)
John Haughey

Incumbent Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.Va.) swept past a conservative challenge, and State Treasurer Riley Moore emerged victorious from a five-candidate field in West Virginia’s two May 14 congressional primary races.

Ms. Miller was declared the winner in her Congressional District 1 (CD 1) primary against former state lawmaker Derrick Evans by the Associated Press at 9:03 p.m. with 60 percent of results counted. At that point, she had garnered 64.7 percent of the tally, or 29,544 votes, to Mr. Evans’ 35.3 percent, or 16,093 votes.

She will be an overwhelming favorite to notch a fourth term in her November race against independent Wes Holden and Democrat James Milton Umberger.

Mr. Evans, who served a three-month sentence after live-streaming himself participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol, staged an aggressive campaign against Ms. Miller but the incumbent never trailed as results were reported from the 28-county congressional district.

In CD 2—the House seat vacated by Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) in his failed bid for the Senate—Mr. Moore was declared the winner by the Associated Press at 8:58 p.m. with 72 percent of the state’s precincts reporting. He had accrued 45.5 percent of the tally, 24,787 votes, to sprint far ahead of Harrison County Veterans Council chair Joe Earley, who had 10 percent, 10,729 votes.

The crowded race also included Army veteran and cyber security company owner Nate Cain, retired Army Brig. Gen. Chris Walker, and Third Party Logistics owner Alexander Gaaserud.

Mr. Moore, who defeated six-term Democrat John Purdue in his 2020 state treasurer race, faces Democrat Steven Wendelin in November as the heavy favorite in their CD 2 general election.

He has been endorsed by Mr. Mooney, House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), former House Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), U.S. Sen. J. D. Vance (R-Ohio), and 40 statehouse lawmakers.

Riley Moore at the National Conservatism Conference in Miami in September 2022. (York Du/The Epoch Times)
Riley Moore at the National Conservatism Conference in Miami in September 2022. (York Du/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Moore is also backed by Americans for Prosperity, GOPAC, the NRA, Republican Main Street Partnership PAC, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, West Virginia Coal Association, and United Mine Workers of America.

Mr. Wendelin, a retired U.S. Navy commander, combat veteran, and self-described “independently-minded Blue Dog Democrat,” did not face primary opposition but enters the CD 2 race as the prohibitive underdog—as do all Democrats across West Virginia, a former Democratic stronghold that has become one of the reddest of the red states over the last 20 years.

As of May 13, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State, there are 1.18 million registered voters in the state. Just over 30 percent are signed on as Democrats, nearly 41 percent as Republicans, and a near-third as unaffiliated but with a tendency to vote for GOP candidates.

Former President Donald Trump carried the state with nearly 69 percent of the 2020 vote. Only Wyoming gave Mr. Trump a larger victory margin. Republicans have lock holds on both state legislative chambers: 31–3 in the Senate and 89–11 in the House.

The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, Politico, Fox News, DDHQ, and FiveThirtyEight all rate CD 1 and CD 2 each as “Solid” Republican with Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Real Clear Politics rating both districts each as “Safe” Republican.

In CD 1, Mr. Evans’ campaign exposed some bitter schisms within the GOP not unique to West Virginia in a campaign that featured little discussion about policy but focused on which candidate could best support President Trump when he returns for a second term and advance the ‘MAGA’ agenda.

He called Ms. Miller a “commie RINO” who “refused to stand and fight with President Trump” and an “undocumented Democrat,” despite her voting record aligning nearly 100 percent with Trump administration policies and initiatives.

Mr. Trump did not endorse anyone in the race. Mr. Evans, however, had the backing of MAGA luminaries Michael Flynn, a former National Security Adviser in the Trump administration, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) and Republicans for National Renewal also endorsed Mr. Evans.

Ms. Miller was supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Campaign for Working Families, Maggie’s List, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and the West Virginia Coal Association.

Mr. Umberger, a Vietnam veteran and former Veterans Administration hospital administrator, defeated retired Charleston educator Chris Bob Reed. He, like Mr. Wendelin in CD 2, enters the general election as a prohibitive underdog.

The inter-party congressional elections were part of a busy West Virginia primary slate that saw 1,800 candidates vying for party nominations to run in fall elections for U.S. Senate, governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, agriculture commissioner, attorney general, local government, judicial circuit, school board, and 117 statehouse seats.

Even before the polls opened on May 14, two guaranteed winners in their party presidential primaries were President Trump and President Joe Biden.

Both secured the needed delegates to win their party nomination in March but the primaries go on anyway. Uncontested, President Trump and President Biden officially added the state’s delegates to their ledgers.

Next up after West Virginia’s, Maryland’s, and Nebraska’s May 14 primaries are May 21 preliminary races between party rivals in Kentucky and Oregon.

John Haughey is an award-winning Epoch Times reporter who covers U.S. elections, U.S. Congress, energy, defense, and infrastructure. Mr. Haughey has more than 45 years of media experience. You can reach John via email at [email protected]
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