CHARLESTON – As President Donald Trump makes his second visit to the Mountain State in two weeks, two Republicans fighting for a U.S. Senate seat are taking the opportunity to take jabs at each other.
On Aug. 1, U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins criticized West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for not supporting Trump until later in the 2016 election cycle. The Hill wrote a story about it on its website, and Jenkins’ campaign later issued a statement.
“With his visit to Huntington this Thursday, President Trump is once again highlighting his commitment to West Virginia,” Jenkins said in the statement. “Disappointingly, Patrick Morrisey demonstrated no such loyalty to the voters of West Virginia and the candidate they resoundingly supported for president, Donald Trump.
“I simply don’t understand how anyone could stay neutral for so long with Hillary Clinton threatening to destroy our way of life and put our state out of work.”
Jenkins noted that he endorsed Trump before West Virginia’s primary.
“It’s one thing to have opposed Trump’s candidacy in the primary, but it’s quite another to have played footsie with the #NeverTrump movement well into the general election,” Jenkins said. “Morrisey’s refusal to endorse Donald Trump for 70 days after West Virginia Republicans backed Trump with 77 percent of the vote says a lot about the kind of senator he’d be. West Virginians simply can’t trust him to represent our values and follow the will of the people.”
Jenkins’ campaign also launched a digital ad campaign about the issue.
"For months, Patrick Morrisey was #NeverTrump ... and now he's lying about it,” the website says. http://morriseysmillions.com/2017/07/31/refused-trump/
A spokeswoman for Morrisey’s campaign dismissed Jenkins’ attack.
“This is laughable coming from Evan Jenkins, a former liberal Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton, cap-and-trade, Obamacare, taxpayer-funded abortions, and gun control,” Nachama Soloveichik told The West Virginia Record. “In contrast, Patrick Morrisey is a conservative Republican who has gone to court to defeat Obama’s agenda and to support President Trump. Most recently, Morrisey worked with President Trump to stop Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the Waters of U.S. rule.”
On Aug. 2, Morrisey’s campaign hit back with a digital campaign of its own focusing on Jenkins’ years as “a liberal Democrat.”
“As a 20-year Democrat in the West Virginia legislature, Jenkins was a loyal Democratic soldier, voting for a host of liberal bills and policies that hurt West Virginia,” the site says, also reminding voters of Jenkins’ “support for Hillary Clinton and his vote for job-killing cap-and-trade legislation – a bill then-Gov. Joe Manchin signed into law.”
“Evan Jenkins is throwing mud and resorting to lies because he doesn’t want voters to know about his liberal record of supporting Hillary Clinton and voting for cap-and-trade,” Soloveichik said. “Jenkins’s desperation is sad, but voters deserve to know the truth.
“These ads simply lay out where the candidates stand on the important issues facing West Virginia. Jenkins is a liberal, and Morrisey is a conservative with a record of results.”
Jenkins’ campaign responded.
“As a card-carrying member of the D.C. cocktail circuit and a longtime lobbyist for liberal interests, Patrick Morrisey played footsie with the #NeverTrumpers and refused to back Trump until well into the general election — thereby helping Hillary Clinton,” campaign spokesman Andy Seré told The Record. “Now he’s lying about Jenkins’ record to cover it up, and he knows it — remember, this is the same Pat Morrisey who asked Jenkins to join his transition team in 2012, and praised Evan as a man of ‘principles’ on the very day he became a Republican four years ago.
“But now that Evan’s blocking his path back to the D.C. Swamp that made him rich, Morrisey has sunk to the depths of dishonesty. Guess it just goes to show, the stench of the Swamp remains with him to this day.”
In addition to Morrisey and Jenkins, former coal miner Bo Copley has announced plans to run as Republicans for the Senate seat currently occupied by Democrat Joe Manchin, who seeks re-election. Manchin will face primary competition 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. Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship also has hinted as running as a Republican or an Independent.