CNN spoke with a number of primary election voters outside of Jefferson High School in Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia, Tuesday, where voters were deciding between candidates in the hotly contested Republican congressional primary between Reps. Alex Mooney and David McKinley.
Amid concerns about inflation and high gas prices, voters agreed that the school board election and debates over critical race theory were also top of mind.
Melodie Williams, who serves on the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee as a representative for Charles Town and was on the ballot herself Tuesday, told CNN she voted for Mooney.
Asked what issues mattered most in Tuesday’s race, Williams said “getting a conservative … to represent us locally here.”
“Alex Mooney is that person,” she said. “We need somebody to, you know … offset the Biden administration as much as possible,” Williams said, citing qualms with President Joe Biden’s energy and economic policies.
“It’s really putting hardships on people. We’re talking $5 gas,” Williams said of the inflation and rising gas prices.
Williams said she appreciates that Mooney “stands on our gun rights” and “is a very pro-life candidate.” Asked about the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Williams said she does not think the final decision will be “as detrimental as people think.”
She said if Roe v. Wade is overturned, “it will just go to the states and then the states can decide how they want to do it in their particular state … Which is how it should be.”
One couple whose son attended and was very involved at Jefferson High School told CNN their focus Tuesday was on the school board election, listing critical race theory, or CRT, as something that should be left out of classroom curriculum.
“I don’t think it needs to be taught in school,” Stephanie Gianniny, a 54-year-old from Harpers Ferry, said of CRT.
“This is as grassroots as it gets,” Jim Gianniny, who is 64, said of the school board election. Jim told CNN he is “very concerned with the shape of our country right now,” and described the school board election as “an ingredient that goes into the bigger picture.”
The couple, who said they had sat in on a lot of school board meetings in the past, said they “would like to see [the school board] status quo.”
“We realize it can be kind of a thankless job at times so the least we can do is come here to support them,” said Jim.
Yet for his part, Ramon Alvarez, an 81-year-old from Charles Town, said he is “very anti those who want to eliminate CRT.”
Alvarez, who said the school board race was the driving factor behind his trip to the polls Tuesday, believes the board “determines what type of education our future generation will have,” and described his ideal curriculum as one that is “open,” “progressive” and will encourage “college bound” students.
Alvarez, who told CNN he cast a ballot for McKinley, described the West Virginia Republican backed by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin as “more progressive,” and described his vote as “anti-Alex Mooney.”
“I don’t think he’s a West Virginian, and I don’t think he’s voted on behalf of West Virginia,” Alvarez said of Mooney.
Though Alvarez appreciates that Manchin has been “fiscally responsible,” and thinks he has “done a good job,” he said Manchin’s endorsement in the race did not play a role in his decision making process.
Likewise, Barbara Campbell, a 72-year-old retired teacher who lives in Charles Town, said education was the issue that drove her to the polls Tuesday. Campbell would like to see smaller class sizes, especially in elementary schools, she said.
Though she did not share who she voted for, Campbell said that the high profile endorsements in the congressional primary did “not really” play a role in her decision making process and were “neither here nor there.”
Polls in West Virginia close at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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