HUNTINGTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is expected to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate later today, but the first verbal volley already has been issued.
A campaign strategist for U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins, who already has announced plans to run for Sen. Joe Manchin’s seat, issued a statement critical of Morrisey and his expected announcement. Both Jenkins and Morrisey are Republicans, while Manchin is a Democrat.
“West Virginians want to help Donald Trump drain the swamp – not fill it back up with a guy who spent his career swimming in it,” Andy Seré said in the statement. “For Patrick Morrisey, this is about profit, plain and simple.
“But West Virginia can’t afford a senator whose deep conflicts of interest would place a cloud of suspicion over his head from day one.”
Seré brought up Morrisey’s legal career before being elected West Virginia’s AG in 2012.
“Not long ago Morrisey was making millions in Washington after 18 years as a congressional staffer-turned-K Street lobbyist, trading on influence to line his own pockets with money from liberal special interests – the same ones whose bidding he did as a top aide on Capitol Hill,” Seré said. “The incurable conflicts of interest from his D.C. days have followed him into the Attorney General’s office; plagued by multiple scandals and under intense political pressure, Morrisey has been forced to recuse himself from several cases involving clients in whom he had (or still has) a financial interest.
“Now – just five years after taking a golden parachute into West Virginia to finance a political career – Morrisey wants back in the swamp. His motives are clear: after recent revelations that his personal finances are dependent on lobbying profits from Planned Parenthood and Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun group, we know Morrisey will throw West Virginia’s conservative values to the wayside just to make a buck.”
Seré said he thinks Mountain State voters will pick Jenkins over Morrisey.
“In 10 months, West Virginia Republicans will face the choice between a D.C. Profiteer and a Conservative Mountaineer,” he said. “We are confident they’ll choose the latter.”
Last month, Morrisey issued a statement saying he was "seriously considering" running for Manchin's seat.
“Over the next two months, I intend to make a decision about whether I should pursue the U.S. Senate seat in 2018,” the June statement said. “We have accomplished incredible things out of the Attorney General’s Office. Now it’s time to explore whether I can help West Virginia even more from a position in the U.S. Senate.”
In addition to Jenkins and Morrisey, former coal miner James "Bo" Copley II has announced plans to run for Manchin's Senate seat as a Republican. Copley made headlines last year when he confronted Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a roundtable meeting in Williamson about remarks she had made on the campaign trail when she had said “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."
In the primary, Manchin will face opposition from environmental activist Paula Jean Swearengin, who already has been endorsed by the Brand New Congress political action committee formed by former staff members and supporters of Bernie Sanders.