HARPERS FERRY – West Virginia Attorney General officially has announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Morrisey, a Republican, made the announcement July 10. He is aiming for the Senate seat currently occupied by Democrat Joe Manchin. Republican U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins also has announced plans to run for the position.
Morrisey planned to publicly announce his campaign at an event later in the day at a hotel in Harpers Ferry.
In a video announcing the candidacy, Morrisey says he will "help this President drain the swamp. That means repealing Obamacare, changing our tax code so we can actually create more jobs here in West Virginia. As your U.S. Senator, I can do even more. We can continue to protect life, expand Second Amendment rights, bring back coal, and protect jobs in our state. You’ll never have to worry about me wavering in my conservative values."
Morrisey was elected as the state's AG in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He has fought against federal government overreach during his time in office, most notably against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama's watch.
In the campaign video, a narrator says Morrisey "will fight and win for us."
"That’s what he’s done as Attorney General, and that’s what he’ll do as our Senator," the voiceover states. "Morrisey grew up the son of a World War II veteran and a VA nurse, learning the importance of having a hard work ethic. A husband and father, Morrisey’s got grit. He knows how to get things done and what makes our country great."
Morrisey also speaks during the video.
"We need someone who is going to take on Washington corruption and advance conservative values," he says. "There’s so much we can do if we have a conservative with principles going to Washington and someone who is committed to taking on the mess. As your Senator, I’ll stand with President Trump, and we will beat the Washington elites.
"Washington is an absolute mess. We need someone to go there who is going to help this President drain the swamp. That means repealing Obamacare, changing our tax code so we can actually create more jobs here in West Virginia. As your U.S. Senator, I can do even more. We can continue to protect life, expand Second Amendment rights, bring back coal, and protect jobs in our state. Unlike my opponents, I’ve never supported Hillary or Obama, or Obamacare, or higher taxes, or cap-and-trade. You’ll never have to worry about me wavering in my conservative values.
"I took on Obama’s illegal amnesty program and beat him in court. We beat President Obama and the EPA when everyone else said it was impossible to bring back coal and protect jobs in our state."
The narrator also talks about Morrisey's record of defending "our jobs, our religious liberties, unborn children, and our gun rights. He upholds our conservative values and the rule of law."
"To me, supporting gun rights is supporting freedom," Morrisey continues. "It’s a basic constitutional right, and that’s why I stood strong for constitutional carry. I’ve advanced reciprocity agreements, and I’ve gone after the liberal gun grabbers. I’m proud of all the work we’ve done taking on the substance abuse fight."
Earlier on July 10, Jenkins' campaign already had delivered the first attack on Morrisey's run. Andy Seré, a campaign strategist for Jenkins, issued a statement critical of Morrisey.
“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,” 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.”
Morrisey's campaign spokesperson responded to Seré's statement.
“As a former lobbyist, a former Democrat, and a former Hillary Clinton supporter, Evan Jenkins can now add hypocrite to that list," Nachama Soloveichik said in an email to The West Virginia Record. "Jenkins is clearly trying to distract voters from his liberal record of supporting cap-and-trade, gun control, Obamacare, radical abortion policies, and his lengthy service on the Obama team.
"In contrast, Morrisey has a proven conservative record of defeating Obama and the EPA in court, fighting for life, standing up for gun rights, taking on the drug epidemic aggressively, and protecting West Virginia coal jobs.”
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.
A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also commented on Morrisey's announcement.
“The already nasty fight between Patrick Morrisey and Congressman Evan Jenkins promises to be a divisive and expensive primary that will leave the ultimate nominee deeply damaged, and show why West Virginians cannot trust either candidate to represent them in the U.S. Senate," David Bergstein said.