CHARLESTON – Two of the leading Republican candidates for Joe Manchin’s U.S. Senate seat continue to spar in a war of words.
The latest example is U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins demanding West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey apologize for “shameful” attacks on state legislators.
In a recent tweet, Morrisey said the state isn’t doing enough to stop drug abuse.
“It’s time @wvlegislature agrees to an enforcement surge and equips State Police, prosecutors, and AG with more investigators, prosecutors, and troopers,” Morrisey said on Twitter. “No midnight highway patrols to go after drug dealers? It's literally criminal. #wvag.”
Jenkins called that an insinuation that House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) and others are guilty of criminal negligence. He also called Morrisey’s comments “unhinged” and “reprehensible,” and he asked Morrisey to apologize.
“Morrisey – acting out of pure spite following the legislature’s 90-7 vote to rein in his self-interested efforts to inappropriately spend settlement monies to suit his own agenda – has waged war on Armstead and his fellow Republicans,” a press release from Jenkins’ campaign stated, saying it was one day after leveling personal attacks against Armstead on a WRNR talk radio show regarding “a lack of response by the speaker” on the issue of tackling the state’s drug crisis.
“It is outrageous for Patrick Morrisey to attack West Virginia Republicans’ commitment to tackling the opioid crisis,” Jenkins said. “His unhinged behavior is a classic case of what psychologists would call ‘projection.’
“Right up until he took office as attorney general, Morrisey was a lobbyist in D.C. for the country’s biggest opioid distributors – the same companies that knowingly flooded our state with an obscene amount of pain pills. To this day, Morrisey’s household finances remain entwined with lobbying revenue generated from opioid industry profits.
“In West Virginia, we’ve been dealing with the tragic consequences of this crisis for years, well before Morrisey used his ill-gotten gains as a lobbyist to buy elected office. His comments are hypocritical and reprehensible, and he should apologize immediately.”
Morrisey’s campaign used those comments as a springboard to attack Jenkins.
“In further proof that Evan Jenkins’ U.S. Senate campaign is sliding down the drain, Jenkins issued a release … attacking Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for trying to convince the Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates to do MORE to combat opioid addiction,” the Morrisey release stated, adding that Jenkins is siding with “the insiders in Charleston and attacking Morrisey’s tough, anti-substance abuse language.”
Morrisey’s campaign said the AG’s office has been aggressive against substance abuse “up and down the pharmaceutical supply chain” and has won the largest settlements against drug companies in state history.
“West Virginia voters deserve a senator who will stand up and fight the swamp, whether it exists in Charleston or Washington, D.C,” Morrisey said. “People are tired of the back-slapping, back-benchers like Evan Jenkins who get nothing done.
“I am proud of the work we have done to combat substance abuse in West Virginia, and we will take on anyone – Democrat or Republican – who wants to protect the drug dealers. Evan Jenkins can stand with his good ol’ boys; I’ll stand with the people of West Virginia and fight to stop senseless death.”
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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has endorsed Morrisey’s Senate campaign.
In his endorsement, Walker emphasized Morrisey’s commitment to conservative causes and his success in achieving results.
"Attorney General Morrisey's strong, conservative record is exactly what West Virginia needs in its next senator," Walker said in a statement. "Patrick has fought for West Virginians while defending the rule of law, and he is ready to keep fighting for them as a champion of conservative reform in Washington, D.C."
Morrisey said he was honored to receive Walker’s endorsement.
“Gov. Walker has been a conservative leader in the Midwest and across the nation, cutting taxes and defunding Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin,” Morrisey said. “His endorsement will excite the many conservatives across West Virginia and the nation who have rallied to our campaign.
“Together, we will win the primary and take on liberal Joe Manchin in the general.”
Morrisey and Jenkins 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. Manchin will be challenged in the Democratic primary by Raleigh County environmental activist Paula Jean Swearengin.
West Virginia’s primary is May 8.