CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey received a boost to his campaign Tuesday with a visit by a member of the Trump family.
Donald Trump Jr., the eldest child of President Donald Trump, joined Morrisey for a campaign fundraiser at Paterno’s at the Park, an Italian restaurant located at Appalachian Power Park.
Tickets ranged from $500 a person to $10,800 a couple, with funds going to primary election debts as well as general election efforts.
Morrisey and Trump Jr. spoke to reporters at the West Virginia Republican Party headquarters prior to the event about the accomplishments of the current administration in addition to the shortcomings of the incumbent, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
“You can’t say something on Fox News one day and do the exact opposite the next day and not get called on it,” Trump Jr. said of Manchin. “Not anymore. Not with this new sheriff in town.”
While Manchin has voted in line with Trump’s agenda more than 61 percent of the time, he did not vote in favor of last year’s attempts to change the federal health care law or the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the latter of which Trump signed into law in December.
“I stand with President Trump, and we’re going to institute significant change in that Senate,” Morrisey said. “President Trump is going to have an ally, and it’s going to be a conservative.”
Trump Jr. said Trump has made major accomplishments in his more than 500 days as president, pointing out a national unemployment rate of 3.8 percent. This includes unemployment levels of 3.3 percent among women, 5.9 percent among African Americans and 4.9 percent among Hispanics.
According to the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics, the rate among African Americans is a record low, and the level among Hispanics is a point lower than the rate when Trump was inaugurated
“The people of this state, they get it. They’ve been forgotten. They’ve been left behind, and they’ve been left behind by one of the two people representing them in the Senate,” Trump Jr. said. “We’ve got an incredible opportunity to fix that. We’ve got an incredible opportunity to right that wrong.”
Morrisey said the Trump administration needs a “strong ally” in the Senate, citing Trump’s remarks he made to the New York Times in December.
“But he doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t do,” the president said. “‘Hey, let’s get together, let’s do bipartisan.’ I say, ‘Good, let’s go.’ Then you don’t hear from him again. I like Joe. You know, it’s like he’s the great centrist. But he’s really not a centrist. And I think the people of West Virginia will see that.”
“President Trump understands you can’t be all things to all people,” Morrisey said Tuesday. “Joe Manchin’s days of putting his finger in the air and not standing up for West Virginia values are soon coming to an end.”
Trump Jr. said Democrats lack a central message going into the midterm, which could jeopardize the the president’s goals if the party takes control of Congress.
“Every success that he’s had, every policy that he’s had, every thing that he’s been implementing — that’s all at stake,” he said.
Outside of Appalachian Power Park, West Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore and a small group of protesters held signs targeting Morrisey for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry, which includes serving as a lobbyist and accepting campaign donations.
“Lobbyists own Morrisey,” one sign read.
Biafore said they are not worried about Trump Jr.’s visit or the president, but rather Morrisey’s record as attorney general.
“There’s going to be a lot of people come and go from today until November on both sides of the aisle. That’s what politics is all about and is what’s supposed to happen,” she said.
The state Democratic Party criticized Morrisey for not signing a letter supporting the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 2.0 and the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education, and Safety Act.
Thirty-nine attorneys general urged the passage of the measures, which would increase penalties for drug manufacturers that failing to act on the diversion of opioids.
Manchin and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., are cosponsors of CARA 2.0.
“If he can’t sign off on that, I don’t know how West Virginians think he is going to stand up for them,” Biafore said
Morrisey said at the press conference he believed lawmakers can go further.
“When you have specific intent that people are engaging in acts that may kill people or there may be some gross negligence, there should be serious penalties,” he said. “I’m going to be very hard on those who knowingly introduce products into the marketplace or push pills the wrong way.”
Biafore did not accept Morrisey’s argument, saying legislators have to start somewhere on policy.
“It may not be strong enough, but anything is better than nothing,” she said.
Manchin leads Morrisey in three polls released since May 22; a Manchin campaign poll has the incumbent leading 50 percent to 42 percent, a survey paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has Manchin ahead 52-40, and a Gravis Marketing poll has Manchin up 53-40.
Despite the strong showing, Biafore said she has no confidence in the numbers.
“I’ve seen it happen many times. You go up, you go down. We’re not taking anything for granted,” she said. “We’ll be out there every day.”