Ashton Marra Published

2018 Senate Race Starting to Crowd Still 15 Months Out


With 15 months to go until Election Day, yet another candidate has added his name to the list of those vying for Democrat Joe Manchin’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey formally announced his bid at a hotel in Harper’s Ferry Monday. The Republican was just elected to his second four-year term in the office last year.

That race brought in millions of dollars from out-of-state interests, including nearly $7 million from a political action committee under a national Republican Attorneys General group, which Morrisey chairs.

In his announcement speech, Morrisey promised to continue much of the same work he started at the statehouse in Washington.

“We need new leadership in West Virginia,” he said, “real leadership to help the president with an agenda infused with conservative values.”

Those values, Morrisey said, include supporting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, promoting gun ownership rights, and reforming the nation’s tax code.

But Morrisey isn’t the only conservative in the race. Republican Congressman Evan Jenkins has also touted himself as the conservative choice since announcing his candidacy in May through a YouTube video.

Credit Zach Gibson / Associated Press
Associated Press
West Virginia Congressman Evan Jenkins, right, during his 2017 swearing in ceremony in Washington.

Less than an hour after Morrisey’s scheduled announcement Monday, the Jenkins campaign released its first set of digital attack ads, going after Morrisey for his past work as a D.C. lobbyist, and potentially setting up what many in political circles around West Virginia have predicted- an ugly and expensive Republican primary between the two.

Jenkins and Morrisey won’t be the only names on the ballot, though.

They’ll be joined by Republicans Jack Newbrough of Weirton, Scott Ernst of Union, and Bo Copely of Lenore. Copely is the coal miner who confronted Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her comments about the industry at a campaign stop in West Virginia last year.

On the Democratic side of the ticket, current Senator and former governor Joe Manchin will face Edwin Vanover of Bluefield and Chase Henderson of Huntington.