Manchin leads challengers with funds for Senate race
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Campaign finance records show Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin with $4.7 million in campaign funds, well ahead of Republican rivals at the start of this election year.
Federal Election Commission filings show $1.4 million for Rep. Evan Jenkins, $1.1 million for state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and $146,490 left from $400,000 in self-funding by former coal executive Don Blankenship.
Democratic challenger Paula Jean Swearengin reported $57,000 on hand at the end of last year.
The FEC showed no fundraising reported by other would-be Republican nominees, Jimmy Dale “Bo” Copley, Jack Newbrough and Thomas Willis.
Manchin, a former governor seeking his second full Senate term, was the target of a pointed attack by Republican Vice President Mike Pence two weeks ago when Pence visited West Virginia.
The Senate Leadership Fund has since launched a broadcast ad with video from Pence’s speech, accusing the Democrat of voting against tax cuts to benefit West Virginians and against replacing the health care law passed under President Barack Obama.
Manchin responded that Pence worked for a year to take health care away from almost 200,000 West Virginians while pushing tax cuts mostly for the wealthy and big corporations.
Jenkins and Morrisey, who have attacked each other’s records heading toward the May 8 primary, have both claimed adherence to policies advocated by President Donald Trump’s administration and attacked Manchin.
The general election, which could help determine control of the U.S. Senate, is expected to draw a lot of outside money and advertising.
Manchin’s latest campaign filing shows he received $788,704 in contributions in the fourth quarter of last year and spent $245,258.
Jenkins, a second-term congressman, reported $203,477 in contributions while spending $60,664 during the same period. He is a former state lawmaker and former executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association.
Morrisey, a former congressional staffer and lobbyist elected in 2016 to a second four-year term as attorney general, reported $446,361 in contributions and $178,647 in spending during the quarter. He also loaned his campaign $260,000 on top of $60,000 previously.
Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy who spent a year in federal prison, lent his campaign $400,000 and has spent $253,509. He reported no other campaign contributions. He was convicted of a misdemeanor of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine in southern West Virginia, where 29 men died. He says he’s innocent. His campaign ads tout his safety history and attack Manchin and Jenkins as career politicians.