MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A week after he won the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he is working to gain the support of voters for the general election in November.
Morrisey said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” while the bitter primary race is still fresh on voters’ minds, conservative voters will support his bid to defeat Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
“No one wants to see Chuck Schumer (of New York) as the majority leader, and no one wants higher taxes, more regulations and the kind of policies that we suffered under from Barack Obama,” he said. “I really believe the supporters of every one of my opponents are going to stand strong because they know the contrast is great.”
Morrisey won the Republican nomination in the May 8 primary, winning 35 percent of the vote. U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., finished second with 29 percent of the vote and former coal executive Don Blankenship was third with around 20 percent. Jenkins endorsed Morrisey’s bid — as is businessman Tom Willis, former coal miner Bo Copley and U.S. Navy veteran Jack Newbrough — but Blankenship has not.
Blankenship said in a statement last week Morrisey would follow orders from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Campaign manager Greg Thomas said Blankenship is considering all options when it comes to this year’s contest, including supporting a third-party candidate.
West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Melody Potter said last week she believes Blankenship and Thomas will support the Republican nominee.
Morrisey said after a “challenging race,” people say things because of the feelings over the race. He added his focus is earning the support of Blankenship’s voters in order to defeat Manchin later this year.
“I’m not looking backwards and I’m not going to focus on the words of some folks that might have some hard feelings,” he said. “I’m actually going to keep reaching out and extending my hand out to those who didn’t support me for their first choice because I think we have a common goal.”
Morrisey overwhelming won support in northern counties, including the Eastern Panhandle where he resides, while Jenkins won support in southern West Virginia, primarily the counties that are part of the 3rd Congressional District.
Donald Trump Jr. spoke to Morrisey after the race was called on Tuesday, saying President Donald Trump would be interested in visiting West Virginia. Morrisey said on “Talkline” he did speak to the president after the win, saying of the call that the president is supporting the Morrisey candidacy and indicated he plans to make stops in the state.
“I don’t know how many times, what that means, but I think that West Virginia will continue to have the president’s back. And this president has West Virginia’s back,” he said.
Trump tweeted May 7 voters should choose either Morrisey or Jenkins for the nomination over Blankenship amid fears of what a Blankenship candidacy could mean in November.
According to Morning Consult, the president has a 62 percent approval rating in West Virginia. He won West Virginia in the 2016 presidential election by 42 points over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I’ve urged him to come to West Virginia as much as possible,” Morrisey said.
WPA Intelligence released a poll on Friday showing Morrisey leading Manchin in a 46 percent to 44 percent matchup. The study was conducted May 10, two days after Morrisey won the Republican nomination. Fifty-one percent of the respondents said they believed it was time for a new person in the position. The survey has a 4.9-point margin of error.