Rand Paul Endorses Patrick Morrisey In West Virginia Primary
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has officially endorsed Republican candidate Patrick Morrisey in the Republican primary in West Virginia. If Morrisey, the current Attorney General of West Virginia, wins the primary, he will be selected as the Republican to run against Democrat Joe Manchin in the Senate.
Rand Paul, a self-professed "constitutional conservative", is known for being more libertarian than most Republicans traditionally are. He has generally been an advocate of smaller, less-restrictive government, and an end to US military interventions where it is costly and ineffective. The Senator stated that Morrisey has a “proven conservative record,” and also praised how Morrisey has challenged the “overzealous” regulations of the Obama Administration as the West Virginia Attorney General.
As the Attorney General, Morrisey has used his powers to file lawsuits against the federal government on the issue of patent protection and the Affordable Care Act. He has also facilitated at least a dozen lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency against regulations on the state’s industries, especially pertaining to coal and agriculture, with coal contributing some 3.5 billion dollars to the gross state product. This had to be weighed against the significant air and river water pollution caused by those industries, and the burden the resulting public health effects would be on the economy.
Morrisey’s top contender within the Republican Party is Evan Jenkins, who used to be leading Morrisey in the polls until this November. In November 2017, a new internal poll found Morrisey ahead by six percent with Republican voters.
Assuming Morrisey wins, he will have a highly-competitive run against the incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin. Despite West Virginia being an increasingly Republican state, Democrats have held most of its congressional and gubernatorial seats since the turn of the millennium. Only in the recent couple years have Republicans began to take nearly all positions from Governor to Secretary of State to even the Agriculture Commissioner. In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won nearly 68% of votes in West Virginia.
One of the reasons Joe Manchin is such a difficult contender against Morrisey is because of his bipartisanship and willingness to diverge from the Democratic party line, especially on losing issues. For example, he abstained from voting on 2001 DREAM act to allow a path for illegal aliens to achieve citizenship, and in 2015, voted to revoke federal funding from Planned Parenthood, something most 21st-century Democrats would find unacceptable. Nate Silver’s “FiveThirtyEight” even reports that Manchin has voted on the same stances as President Trump about 60% of the time.
According to RealClearPolitics, Manchin has an average 18% advantage in the current polls, if he were to run against Morrisey. However, this comes from only two polling agencies over a couple months, and the actual elections are more than half a year away. Most political forecasts consequently still list the West Virginia Senate election as a “toss-up.”
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