CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sen. Joe Manchin continues to hold a strong fundraising lead over his two most prominent Republican rivals in what is anticipated to be one of the most competitive, expensive U.S. Senate races in the nation.
Manchin’s campaign raised $900,000 during the most recent fundraising period and has about $4.1 million cash on hand.
Running on the Republican side, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s campaign raised about $700,000 and has about $548,000 cash on hand.
Congressman Evan Jenkins, another Republican, reported $220,000 raised in the period with $1,255,454 cash on hand.
Manchin’s campaign put out a release noting that the senator had raised more than the combined fundraising totals of Morrisey and Jenkins during the period.
“West Virginians are sick of the constant gridlock in Washington that causes nothing to get done. Senator Manchin’s strong support is at this early stage is proof that voters approve of his independent approach to representing the people of West Virginia,” stated Pat Devney, Manchin’s campaign manager.
A MetroNews West Virginia Poll released at the beginning of September showed Manchin with 50 percent of the vote versus 40 percent for Congressman Evan Jenkins in a theoretical general election matchup. Eleven percent of respondents in that race were undecided.
Results were similar for a theoretical general election battle between Manchin and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. The results show Manchin with 52 percent and Morrisey with 38 percent. Again, 11 percent said they were unsure.
Asked to assess the latest fundraising totals, West Virginia Wesleyan political science professor Robert Rupp wasn’t surprised Manchin is aggressively raising money and taking the race seriously.
“We have to realize this is an experienced politician who has run for statewide office how many times. Now he has the status of a U.S. Senator and he’s been given long notice to prepare,” Rupp said in a telephone interview.
“It’s not surprising that a U.S. Senator who is facing a serious challenge is doing very well as far as raising money and having money on hand.”
Rupp said attention and spending are likely to pick up as the race continues.
“You tell me the last time a Senate race in West Virginia got national attention,” Rupp said.
“This isn’t just about the state and this isn’t just about control of the Senate. This is really about Republican domination of the South. And Manchin is basically the last conservative Democrat left from the South in the Senate.
Rupp added, “His defeat or his victory would send messages in terms of the future of the political landscape. If he wins, he’ll be credited with a way for Democrats to make s comeback in this state. If he loses it’ll be viewed as a nail in the coffin.”
The race to take on Manchin has remained heated, as the Jenkins and Morrisey campaigns took shots at each other over their respective fundraising.
“Frankly, we expected a 20-year Washington lobbyist like Morrisey to top $1 million this quarter, but even that wouldn’t be enough to hide his record as a 20-year D.C. lobbyist for liberal special interests,” stated Andy Sere, who is a spokesman for the Jenkins campaign.
Morrisey’s campaign knocked Jenkins for not raising as much during the fundraising period.
“Liberal Evan Jenkins and his campaign are in a tailspin — spending resources faster than they can raise it,” stated Nachama Soloveichik for Morrisey.
“That shows terrible organization and a severe lack of discipline for a campaign hoping to take on an incumbent like Senator Joe Manchin. No other so-called tier-one candidate in the country performed as poorly in their fundraising last quarter.”
Rupp suggested the sources of each campaign’s fundraising also would be an issue.
“Who is getting the outside money. And I think with Morrisey there’s going to be a question of where the money is coming from,” Rupp said.
Sure enough, that’s an issue the Jenkins campaign raised.
“We are proud that 70 percent of our donors are West Virginia voters, while Morrisey is financing his campaign with dirty cash from the D.C. Swamp and globalist corporations that know he’s for sale,” Sere stated for Jenkins.
Morrisey’s campaign stated that Jenkins is more representative of the swamp.
“Evan Jenkins is the ideal model creature of the DC swamp with no grassroots support and a record more liberal than Sen. Joe Manchin,” Soloveichik stated.