CHARLESTON – Patrick Morrisey's U.S. Senate campaign is criticizing Republican primary opponent Evan Jenkins for comments he made about potentially supporting a third-party presidential candidate in the 2016 election.
"Surprise, surprise. After months of pretending like he is President Trump’s biggest fan, it turns out Evan Jenkin’s is lying about his past yet again," Morrisey campaign spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said in a press release. "New evidence shows that Evan Jenkins wouldn’t commit to supporting Donald Trump, if he were the Republican nominee."
The campaign shared a March 2016 Charleston Gazette-Mail article that said Jenkins "pointed to energy issues in confirming his preference for a Republican (without ruling out a third-party candidate)."
“Any Republican candidate is better than Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders,” Jenkins said at the time. “I will support the Republican nominee, assuming they don’t turn their back on the policies and priorities that are critical to West Virginia.”
Morrisey's campaign says Jenkins "has been openly lying about his support for Donald Trump from 'Day One.'"
"With Donald Trump as the clear front-runner in the GOP primary in March 2016, Jenkins was asked if he would support the winner of the Republican primaries, but he gave himself leeway to support a third-party candidate," Soloveichik said. "It’s shameful to see Evan Jenkins trying to sell West Virginia voters a bill of goods.
"After years of flip-flopping on abortion, cap-and-trade, and Obamacare, it’s clear that Evan Jenkins will say whatever the political winds tell him to say. If West Virginians want to elect a weather vane, he’d be a great choice. If they’re looking for a conservative senator, Patrick Morrisey is their guy.”
Morrisey's campaign also launched a digital ad highlighting what it calls Jenkins' lies about supporting Trump and his willingness to support a third-party candidate.
Jenkins' campaign manager dismissed the claims.
“The Morrisey campaign is flailing; this isn’t up for debate," Andy Seré told The West Virginia Record. "Jenkins supported Trump in West Virginia’s primary and the general election, while Morrisey refused to endorse Trump until well into the general election. Worse, he later backed away from Trump in October, bragging on the radio that he was the only Republican convention delegate in the state to have not supported Donald Trump.
"Hillary Clinton must have been tickled to see such a prominent GOP official squirm away from our nominee; thankfully, the audio has been preserved for any voter interested in hearing a #NeverTrumper-at-heart show his true colors."
Morrisey, currently West Virginia's Attorney General, and Jenkins, currently a U.S. Congressman representing West Virginia's Third District, will face primary competition from former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, former coal miner Bo Copley from Delbarton, Martinsburg businessman Tom Willis and Weirton truck driver Jack Newbrough. Incumbent Senator Joe Manchin will be challenged in the Democratic primary by Raleigh County environmental activist Paula Jean Swearengin.