In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Meet The Carpetbagging Tea Partier Who Could Be W. Va.'s Newest Rep.

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Mooney's been creative with his defense of his latest migration (he ran for the New Hampshire House of Representatives while a senior at Dartmouth College too but lost). In one interview he brushed off state lines and argued that so many people move between Maryland and West Virginia it's practically the same constituency. In an interview with National Review, Mooney compared leaving Maryland to members of his family leaving Communist Cuba.

"I moved about half an hour from where I lived," Mooney told the conservative magazine. "I moved just from one side of the Potomac to the other. You know my mother's a refugee from Cuba. That country was taken over by the Communists —I'm now a refugee from Maryland!"

Mooney had originally been planning to run for Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's (R-MD) seat and even worked for the congressman in the hopes of succeeding him when he retired. Instead, in 2012, Bartlett decided to run for re-election and Mooney had to change his candidacy, since he had already filed paperwork to run for Barlett's seat. Mooney opted to keep the funds he had already raised in Maryland to run to succeed Bartlett and use them for his West Virginia run.

The carpetbagger charge is one Mooney's had to address numerous times. After all, Mooney was not only a state senator representing neighboring Frederick, Maryland, he also served as the chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.

Money is a hard-line conservative. In announcing his candidacy he promised to "stand up to the gun grabbers, the radical pro-abortion zealots, the tax hikers and out of control government agencies such as the EPA and the IRS."

In the Maryland state legislature which he served in since 1999, Mooney warned that gays and lesbians were trying to gain legal recognition as minorities. (Mooney was a big opponent of same-sex marriage in the state, first stalling legislation in the legislature before advocates put it on the ballot in Maryland in 2012.)

"Even if homosexual 'marriage' comes in, it's not going to stop; the radicals pushing this stuff are not going to stop," Mooney said in 2008 according to CNSNews.com."They're going to go for 'hate speech.' If you actually speak against the homosexual lifestyle, maybe from the pulpit if you're a pastor then you're in trouble."

As a state lawmaker in 2004 Mooney also pushed legislation blocking federal courts from making rulings on religious monuments. And Mooney, along with other lawmakers, pushed legislation cutting abortion coverage from Maryland's Medicaid program.

Now he's running for Congress. Mooney is one of seven Republicans and two Democrats vying for Capito's seat -- but he's been able to win the support from the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, The Madison Project and The Gun Owners of America, among others.

Arguably though Mooney's most divisive part of his resume may be his time as Maryland Republican Party chairman, after he lost re-election as a state senator in 2010. He was seen as a partisan flamethrower that turned off even some Republicans, according to Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz. Mooney was also seen as using the top Maryland Republican seat as a placeholder until some other, bigger seat somewhere opened up (even when he was first elected chairman there was speculation about where Mooney would go next).

Brian Griffiths, a Maryland blogger and critic of Mooney's, wrote an op-ed describing him as more focused on raising money for his future political plans than raising money for his state party.

“We certainly didn’t expect him to abandon his home state, though,” Griffiths told the Gazette. “Frankly, I think it is blind ambition."

(Photo credit: Alex Mooney for Congress)

Correction: This article incorrectly stated the total number of candidates running for Capito's seat. There are nine, two Democrats and seven Republicans. We regret the error.

About The Author

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Daniel Strauss is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He was previously a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper and has written for Politico, Roll Call, The American Prospect, and Gaper's Block. He has also interned at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and The New Yorker. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History. At Michigan he helped edit Consider, a weekly opinion magazine. He can be reached at daniel@talkingpointsmemo.com.