So far, Republicans have failed to come up with heavyweight contenders to oppose liberal Democratic senators in Missouri, Montana, and Wisconsin.
In West Virginia, however, the obverse is true. Two of West Virginia’s best-known Republican office-holders have recently announced they will seek nomination to oppose Joe Manchin.
Ironically, Manchin is widely considered President Trump’s “favorite Democrat” in the Senate. The former two-term governor has supported all of Trump’s Cabinet appointments, is staunchly pro-Second Amendment, and backs the idea of “repeal and replace” for Obamacare.
“But for all the talk [Manchin] has made recently about being a conservative, he has a history of taking non-conservative positions, and that’s why he’s vulnerable,” Lynn Staton, state GOP vice-chairman, told Newsmax. The American Conservative Union has given Manchin a lifetime rating of 28.17 percent and the liberal Americans for Democratic Action rated him 16 percent during the same time.
Asked about specific “non-conservative” stands by Manchin, West Virginia Republicans who spoke to us almost always point to his co-sponsorship of background check legislation for gun-owners with Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (PA).
State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey declared his candidacy last Monday afternoon. Well-known for joining lawsuits against the Obama Administration over what he calls its “war on coal,” Morrisey was elected the state’s Republican attorney general in 2012 by ousting 20-year incumbent Democrat Darrell McGraw.
Last fall, Morrisey was re-elected by a landslide. No sooner had he announced for a Senate than he was endorsed by a “who’s who” of state and national conservative leaders: West Virginia Citizens Defense League (WVCDL), West Virginians for Life, Gun Owners of America. In addition, five West Virginia state senators, and 25 West Virginia Delegates weighed in for Morrisey.
Morrisey’s announcement came weeks after two-term US Rep. Evan Jenkins declared for the US Senate. Jenkins, a onetime Democratic state legislator, made big news in ’14 when he toppled 38-year Democratic Rep. Nick Joe Rahall in West Virginia’s 3rd District.
Easily re-elected last fall, Jenkins has so far raised more than $2.2 million for the Senate race. (A third candidate in the race is former coal industry worker Bo Copley, who achieved some fame last year for confronting Manchin and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton).
“I was for Evan early on,” Dr. Doug McKinney, former state Republican chairman, told us,” I also was one of Patrick’s earliest donors when he first ran for attorney general. But I told him I wish he’d finish out his term and then run for governor in ’20. We shouldn’t have a contested primary between two fine conservatives who have both helped turn this state Republican.”
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