CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The race for U.S. Senate starts again now.
West Virginia’s Republican nominee, Patrick Morrisey, has been claiming for months to be the only viable candidate to beat incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democratic political powerhouse.
Now he gets his chance.
Morrisey handily defeated a crowded field of challengers during the primary election, including Congressman Evan Jenkins and ex-coal executive Don Blankenship.
Manchin had a dominating primary victory against progressive Paula Jean Swearengin.
Manchin, speaking Tuesday night with MetroNews, said he had anticipated Morrisey might be his opponent.
“I always thought Patrick might have an edge, and the reason is he had two statewide races under his belt and a little bit more identification, if you will. I’ve done enough statewide races to realize that.”
Both Manchin and Morrisey are well-funded and well-known. Each has won multiple statewide races.
And each has controversial connections with the pharmaceutical industry.
Morrisey is a former lobbyist for the prescription drug industry whose campaigns have been funded by those same companies. Manchin has been connected with Mylan Pharmaceuticals and its EpiPen controversy through his daughter, Heather Bresch, who runs the company.
There will be plenty of ammunition for each as they challenge each other over these next months.
“Voters realize I have a strong conservative record, and you can’t make that up,” Morrisey said on MetroNews on Tuesday evening.
“Now we’re going to work to bring everyone back together to ensure we beat Joe Manchin in the fall.”
Morrisey was already talking about Manchin on Tuesday night.
“Joe Manchin, unfortunately, he just doesn’t cut it,” Morrisey said. “He’s not led on the issues. His resume is very thin on getting things done for West Virginia.”
Manchin said he just wants to talk about the issues facing West Virginians as attention turns to the general election.
“I want to talk about health care, drug addiction, miners pensions, Social Security, veterans, opportunities and jobs. You name it, I’ll talk about it, and I think we should have some really sincere talks on the issues that face West Virginians.”