Associated Press Published

Manchin Builds Fundraising Lead in West Virginia Senate Race


Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has built a significant fundraising chest in his bid for a second full six-year term, far outpacing West Virginia Republicans hoping to defeat him this fall.

Manchin’s campaign has raised $4.5 million since the start of 2017 and had $5.4 million in cash on hand at the end of March, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

A former governor, Manchin reported $3.1 million in individual contributions and $1.4 million from other committees over the past 15 months.

Manchin’s campaign said in a statement it has raised more than $935,000 in the first three months this year. Campaign spokesman Grant Herring said the campaign has more than 11,000 donors.

“The numbers don’t lie: Senator Manchin has strong grassroots support from all over West Virginia,” Herring said in the statement.

Manchin faces Paula Jean Swearengin in the May 8 Democratic primary. Swearengin reports raising $179,000 and has $54,000 cash on hand.

Among the six candidates in the GOP Senate primary, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has self-funded his campaign with $2 million in loans.

According to his filing, he’s received a single $1,000 individual donation since announcing his candidacy late last year. Blankenship had $214,000 cash on hand at the end of March.

Blankenship, who served a year in prison for a misdemeanor conviction related to the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 men, has flooded the airwaves promoting his campaign, touting his dedication to mine safety and criticizing the Senate candidacies of U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Jenkins and Morrisey have raised more than $1.4 million apiece, and each has about $1.3 million cash on hand. Morrisey has loaned his campaign $320,000.

The FEC had no campaign finance reports listed for the other GOP candidates, including truck driver Jack Newbrough of Weirton, West Virginia National Guard Maj. Tom Willis and Bo Copley of Lenore, a laid-off coal miner who confronted Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 over her remarks about cutting mining jobs.

Booth Goodwin, a Democrat and former federal prosecutor whose office oversaw Blankenship’s prosecution, is listed in federal filings as the treasurer of super political action committee Duty and Country, which took out more than $626,000 in television ads against Jenkins and Morrisey.

Another super PAC, Arlington, Virginia-based Mountain Families PAC, reported spending $744,000 for television ads attacking Blankenship’s environmental record. Mountain Families’ treasurer is Ben Ottenhoff, a former Republican National Committee chief financial officer.

In the open U.S. House race for Jenkins’ 3rd District seat, state Delegate Carol Miller led five other GOP candidates with $252,000 raised plus $275,000 in loans, including $200,000 she loaned herself. She has $302,000 on hand. Former state GOP chairman Conrad Lucas raised $143,000 and loaned his campaign $95,500. He has $181,000 on hand.

Among 3rd District Democrats, state Sen. Richard Ojeda has far outpaced his competitors, raising $157,000 with $68,000 on hand.

In the 1st District Democratic primary, retired CEO Ralph Baxter of Wheeling leads three candidates with $404,000 raised. He has loaned his campaign $200,000 and has $429,000 on hand.

Democrat Aaron Scheinberg has raised $486,000 in his 2nd District campaign and has $265,000 on hand. Former Hillary Clinton state presidential campaign director Talley Sergent has raised $241,000 and has $170,000 on hand.

Congressmen David McKinley and Alex Mooney are unopposed in the GOP primary in the 1st and 2nd Districts, respectively.