MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For the first and only time of this year’s election cycle, Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Patrick Morrisey will take part in a debate regarding issues affecting West Virginians.

The debate, moderated by MetroNews “Talkline” host Hoppy Kercheval, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday and air on MetroNews affiliates, MetroNews’ website and local television stations in West Virginia.

The West Virginia Broadcasters Association is hosting the event.

A scheduled Oct. 14 debate in Wheeling between the two candidates was canceled after Morrisey did not confirm he would participate.

Manchin, seeking his second full term in office, has led in most polls, with the MetroNews Dominion Post West Virginia Poll released Thursday showing the Democratic incumbent leading Morrisey by 5 percentage points. In August, the same poll showed Manchin leading by 8 points.

Pollster Rex Repass said the gap could have closed because of interest in recent events, such as the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, in addition to multiple visits to West Virginia by President Donald Trump.

Trump is scheduled to hold a rally Friday in Huntington for Republican candidates, including Morrisey.

Polling analyses show the race as leaning in Manchin’s favor.

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