CHARLESTON – The campaigns for two Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate are sparring over their candidate’s views on abortion.
In an Oct. 11 letter to the West Virginia Republican Party Executive Committee, U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins notes that state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey opposed a federal constitutional amendment to reverse Roe v. Wade when he ran for a House of Representatives seat in 2000.
“While running for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District in 2000, Morrisey told the press he would not support a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution – an unmistakably pro-abortion stance that defies a key plank in the Republican party platform since 1976,” Jenkins’ campaign said in a press release that included a copy of Jenkins’ letter to the executive committee.
Jenkins also is a member of the committee.
“I know you share my commitment to the conservative principles enshrined in our party platform,” Jenkins wrote in the letter. “Republicans recognize that the most fundamental of all human rights is the Right to Life. After an activist Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand with Roe v. Wade in 1973, every GOP platform since 1976 has endorsed the only legislative solution to reverse that decision and put a stop to the murder of millions of innocent babies: a constitutional amendment defining that life begins at conception, thus guaranteeing the right to life for unborn babies.”
In the letter, Jenkins said he has a 100 percent pro-life record as a state and federal lawmaker.
“My commitment to the sanctity of human life has never — and will never — waver,” he wrote. “In the U.S. Senate, I will remain a champion for the unborn and continue to be a staunch advocate for a constitutional Human Life Amendment. And I will proudly carry the banner of our party and its conservative platform.”
Jenkins then talked about the 2000 New Jersey House race that included Morrisey.
“I need to make you aware of something that has been brought to my attention by several members of our party regarding another Republican candidate’s position on the Human Life Amendment,” Jenkins wrote. “In a New Jersey congressional race in 2000 — the only other time he has run for federal office — Patrick Morrisey opposed a constitutional amendment protecting unborn babies from abortion, running in open defiance of a key plank in the Republican Party Platform.”
The letter included a copy of a May 15, 2000, Associated Press story that said Morrisey said he would not support a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.
“It doesn’t mean much to say you’re against abortion if you oppose the only policy proposal to end it,” Jenkins wrote. “The Republicans who have shared this with me — some of whom had previously supported Morrisey’s candidacy — were completely unaware of this information and feel betrayed.
“To their knowledge and mine, Patrick has not reversed his opposition to the Human Life Amendment, thereby remaining at odds with our pro-life platform. The sanctity of life is a non-negotiable core value of our party and our country. It is a deeply-held principle that all GOP candidates should honor, no matter which office they seek or the state in which they seek it.”
Jenkins also calls on Morrisey “to get this right” by asking him to renounce his position he discussed in the 2000 New Jersey campaign and “commit his full support to the Republican platform.” He also asks Morrisey to return campaign contributions he’s received from Planned Parenthood lobbyists.
“Whe it comes to stopping the slaughter of millions of innocent unborn babies, it’s never too late to do the right thing,” Jenkins wrote.
Morrisey’s campaign called Jenkins’ actions desperate.
“This is more desperate flailing from Evan Jenkins’ imploding campaign, after Patrick Morrisey raised more than triple the amount of money this past quarter,” Morrisey campaign spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik told The West Virginia Record. “Jenkins is trying desperately to distract people from the fact that he aided and abetted abortionists and the pro-abortion movement, voting for pro-abortion nominees in the West Virginia state Legislature and even supporting taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood.
“In contrast, Morrisey championed West Virginia’s Pain Capable Law and has been endorsed by West Virginians for Life. All the desperate gimmicks in the world can’t change the fact that Evan Jenkins is a liberal trying to sell a bill of goods to West Virginia voters.”
Soloveichik said Jenkins voted to confirm two pro-choice nominees to the West Virginia Board of Medicine as a member of the state Senate in 2003. Both of those nominees – Del. Mary Pearl Compton and Pat Hussey – were rejected.
Soloveichik also noted that the West Virginians for Life Political Action Committee has issued two statements endorsing Morrisey, including one it released on Oct. 11.
“West Virginians for Life Political Action Committee reiterates its position that Patrick Morrisey is a strong pro-life candidate for election to the U.S. Senate,” Dr. Wanda Franz, president of the PAC, said on Oct. 11. “As stated in our earlier press release: After decades of unborn babies receiving NO protection from West Virginia’s attorney general, it is refreshing that Patrick Morrisey has stood firm on the side of life. We commend him for his outstanding record of commitment to the pro-life cause and feel he would make an excellent U.S. Senator.”
Soloveichik also said Jenkins supports giving taxpayer funds to “radical groups that support and provide abortions,” saying Jenkins “filled out an issue survey on abortion and refused to oppose taxpayer funds for abortions and pro-abortion groups” for Project Vote Smart in 2006.
Jenkins’ campaign manager responded as well.
“Patrick Morrisey is a guy who never has taken a single pro-life vote in his life,” Andy Seré told The West Virginia Record. “The only other time he ran for federal office, he opposed the only policy solution that there is available to stop the abortion-on-demand era that Roe v. Wade ushered in. His campaigns have been funded, in part, by Planned Parenthood’s top D.C. lobbying firm. This all adds up to a guy who can’t be trusted to protect the unborn.”
Seré said West Virginians for Life endorsed Jenkins in 2016, saying he “had a 100 percent pro-life voting record in the Legislature, and that has continued in Washington.”
“It’s quite telling that he (Morrisey) doesn’t seem to be disputing the position, nor renouncing the position he took in New Jersey on that constitutional amendment in 2000,” Seré said. “His campaign’s response was laughably misleading. Evan has taken, over the course of his career, he’s taken 29 on abortion policy and related votes. He’s voted pro-life 29 times out of 29.”
In addition to Jenkins and Morrisey, former coal miner Bo Copley has announced plans to run as Republicans for the Senate seat currently occupied by Manchin for the 2018 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.