CHARLESTON – A new poll shows U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins leading the Republican field in the race for Joe Manchin's U.S. Senate seat.
The survey was conducted by Jenkins' campaign and released Feb. 9. It shows Jenkins ahead by 8 percentage points. The campaign also says the poll shows West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's "cratering support, taking just 25 percent of the vote despite his status as a twice-elected statewide officeholder."
The automated poll was conducted earlier this month. Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was third in the results at 18 percent. Blankenship is the only candidate who has been running television advertising in the campaign. The other three Republican candidates – Martinsburg businessman Tom Willis, Weirton truck driver Jack Newbrough and former coal miner Bo Copley from Delbarton – each drew little support in the poll, and 12 percent of those surveyed remain undecided.
When given the choice of either Jenkins or Morrisey, Jenkins took 42 percent to Morrisey's 36 percent with 22 percent undecided.
Harper Polling surveyed 500 Republican primary voters Feb. 5 and 6 via landlines phones using Interactive Voice Response. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Jenkins' campaign also said Morrisey's fundraising totals dropped by 25 percent in the last quarter, "forcing him to go $320,000 into debt to save face." It says Jenkins' campaign ended the last quarter with $1.4 million.
"Crashing in the polls and trailing in cash with just three months left, it’s clear that West Virginia Republicans are turning against 20-year D.C. lobbyist Patrick Morrisey as they learn more about his record," Jenkins' campaign said in a press release. "It is stunning that a guy with universal statewide name ID is already performing so poorly.
"But perhaps it shouldn’t come as a shock that Mountain State conservatives are not taking kindly to a guy who’s spent his career profiting from – and financing his campaigns with – K Street cash from the opioid industry, Planned Parenthood and even Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group.
Morrisey's campaign spokeswoman dismissed the claims of Jenkins' campaign.
"Liberal Evan Jenkins rigged an automated poll to cover yet another pathetic fundraising quarter – so pathetic that he refused to release his numbers," Nachama Soloveichik told The West Virginia Record. "When you look at the fourth-quarter fundraising reports, it’s clear that conservatives are rallying to Patrick Morrisey.
"Morrisey and the pro-Morrisey super PAC posted a combined $1.7 million cash on hand, compared to Evan Jenkins who is too embarrassed to release his report and the pro-Jenkins super PAC that raised a grand total of $70. It’s sad to see the lengths a desperate, liberal Evan Jenkins will go to prop up his flailing fraud of a campaign."
Jenkins' campaign fundraising report did post on Feb. 9. It raised $204,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017, and the Mountain State Super PAC that supports him raised $70. Morrisey's campaign raised $737,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017.
“It’s abundantly clear that the steam is quickly running out of Evan Jenkins’ Senate campaign,” Soloveichik said. “Conservatives are rallying to Morrisey’s proven track record of standing up to President Obama and supporting President Trump’s agenda. With his pitiful fundraising and liberal record, Evan Jenkins would lose decisively to Sen. Joe Manchin.”