HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Thursday that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is the “only constitutional conservative” running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
“I’m from across the river, but we’ve suffered the same way you have,” Paul told a small crowd in Huntington. “I’ve seen that Patrick will stand up and fight not like (in) a barroom, but in a court using his brain as the attorney general of West Virginia to fight for you against the war on coal.”
The Morrisey campaign announced Paul’s endorsement on April 16. Paul’s visit to Richwood Industries in Huntington came with five days before the primary election.
“Washington has utterly failed us,” Morrisey said. “We have terrific leaders like Sen. Rand Paul and other people stepping up, trying to do the right thing.”
Paul is not the only conservative supporting Morrisey’s bid; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the National Rifle Association and West Virginians for Life PAC have endorsed the attorney general, who has been painting himself as the best option for conservative voters.
Paul added Morrisey’s work as attorney general challenging the policies of the Obama administration symbolizes the kind of senator he would be.
“I think the definition of outsider is someone who, if they are elected, will still challenge the establishment. I don’t think he (Morrisey) becomes part of the establishment,” Paul told reporters.
The rally also included attacks on one of Morrisey’s opponents, U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., a native of Huntington. Morrisey and Paul made multiple jabs at Jenkins.
“I didn’t rally for Hillary Clinton. I didn’t stand on the Barack Obama team for five years — it took him five years to flip parties,” Morrisey said of Jenkins, referencing his past affiliation with the Democratic Party while serving as a state legislator.
Paul went after Jenkins for a television advertisement showing a doctored image of Morrisey shaking hands with Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. The image of Morrisey was taken from a picture of him shaking hands with President Donald Trump.
“A man’s handshake symbolizes your honor,” the senator said. “I think that any man who would fake a handshake — who would take a handshake where Patrick is shaking hands with the president and Photoshop that in and imply he was shaking hands with Hillary Clinton — that person’s a liar and should never be your next U.S. senator.”
Morrisey also attacked former coal executive Don Blankenship, saying a Blankenship win on Tuesday would result in an easy Manchin victory.
“Don Blankenship has no prayer of winning this race in November,” Morrisey said after the event. “We’re pointing that out.”
The Blankenship campaign is planning to release another advertisement calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “Cocaine Mitch,” a reference to a 2014 article in the Nation, which states cocaine was found on a shipping vessel owned by the father of McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The video also goes after McConnell’s in-laws, calling them his “China family.”
“Mitch’s swamp people are running false, negative ads against me. They are also childishly calling me despicable and mentally ill,” Blankenship says in the video. “The war to drain the swamp and create jobs for West Virginia people has begun. I will beat Joe Manchin and ditch Cocaine Mitch for the sake of the kids.”
Donald Trump Jr., the oldest son of the president, tweeted Thursday voters should not support Blankenship’s candidacy.
“I hate to lose. So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and ask the people of West Virginia to make a wise decision and reject Blankenship!” he said. “No more fumbles like Alabama. We need to win in November.”
Trump added he thinks there are two qualified candidates and “one train wreck.”
Blankenship said in a statement hours later “the establishment” is doing everything to make sure he loses the primary election.
“West Virginians are dying by the hundreds every year from opiate drugs and they will not vote for a drug lobbyist who is also associated with abortionists,” he said, referring to Morrisey. “They will also not vote for Little Joe (Jenkins) who has been in public office for two decades yet oversees the Congressional district that leads the nation in drug overdose deaths and which is last in economic opportunity.”
Former McConnell chief of staff Josh Holmes called Blankenship “West Virginia Roy Moore” on Twitter, referring to the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama accused of sexual misconduct.
“This clown is a walking, talking case study for the limitation of a prison’s ability to rehabilitate,” Holmes tweeted.
National Guard Maj. Tom Willis, former coal miner Bo Copley and U.S. Navy veteran Jack Newbrough are also running for the Republican nomination. Manchin and activist Paula Jean Swearengin are the Democratic candidates in the race.