MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Three of West Virginia’s six Republican U.S. Senate candidates will be on a national stage on Tuesday night, one week ahead of the May primary election.

Fox News Channel is launching its “America’s Election Headquarters” 2018 midterm election series with a debate involving 3rd District Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and former Massey CEO Don Blankenship.

“For a generation, no one paid attention to West Virginia politics, particularly the U.S. Senate race. You had the duo of (U.S. Senator Jay) Rockefeller and (U.S. Senator Robert C.) Byrd,” said Dr. Robert Rupp, a West Virginia Wesleyan political science professor.

“But now, we not only get national attention, we’re getting national intervention.”

The debate at Morgantown’s Metropolitan Theater will air nationwide on Fox News Channel from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and is also scheduled to be broadcast on some MetroNews Radio Network stations in West Virginia.

Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will moderate the event.

Jenkins, Morrisey and Blankenship all polled above a 10 percent threshold to qualify for participation with Jenkins garnering 25 percent in the Fox poll, 21 percent for Morrisey and 16 percent for Blankenship.

Of those surveyed, 24 percent were undecided.

“This race is extremely close among the top three candidates and, more important of all, almost 25 percent of the voters haven’t told us where they stand or said they haven’t decided,” Rupp said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“We’re going to have a real, live debate that has great significance.”

In the Fox poll, National Guard Maj. Tom Willis was at four percent, followed by former coal miner Bo Copley at two percent and Jack Newbrough, a U.S. Navy veteran, at one percent. Because of the polling numbers, those three were excluded from the Fox debate.

The Republican nominated in the primary election will go on to face either U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) or Paula Jean Swearengin in the November general election.

Early voting continues through Saturday, May 5.

As of Monday morning, those with the Secretary of State’s Office were reporting more than 24,000 ballots had already been cast statewide.

On May 8, polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

MetroNews coverage of the results of Decision 2018 is scheduled to begin at 7:06 p.m. that night.

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