Evan Jenkins jumps into West Virginia Senate race

GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins announced his candidacy for Senate in West Virginia on Monday, giving Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin his first major challenger ahead of a tricky 2018 campaign.

“I’m Evan Jenkins and I’m running for the United States Senate to help bring West Virginia back,” Jenkins says in an announcement video. “… [W]ith Donald Trump in the White House we’ve got a real chance to turn things around. He needs our help and I need your help. West Virginia needs your help.”

Manchin is one of 10 Senate Democrats facing reelection in 2018 in a state carried by President Donald Trump last year, but West Virginia was a particularly strong state for the GOP, with Trump winning over two-thirds of the vote. Since then, Manchin has continued to compile one of the most conservative voting records among Senate Democrats, including votes to confirm most of Trump’s Cabinet nominees and Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Jenkins, who had been laying the groundwork for a run for months, is the first serious Republican candidate to jump into the race for Manchin’s seat, but he may not be the last. Jenkins’ Monday announcement came as allies of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, also a Republican, unveiled plans to form a super PAC that would back Morrisey if he decides to run for Senate.

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