Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump administration seeks to use global aid for nuclear projects Shelley Moore Capito wins Senate primary West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins GOP gubernatorial primary MORE (D-W.Va.) won reelection on Tuesday night, rebuffing his state’s growing shift to the right.
Manchin defeated West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), two years after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE won the state by more than 42 percentage points.
The president’s huge margin of victory made Manchin, the last Democrat in the state’s five-person congressional delegation, a top target for Republicans heading into 2018.
Manchin took aim at Trump during his victory speech on Tuesday night, saying the country had to stop the “toxic rhetoric” and Trump needed to be “president of the United States, not the divided states.”
“I never expected this race to be the national race it turned out to be. I never expected President Trump to come to the state as much as he did. ..[But] you stood stall. …What West Virginia said loud and clear tonight is ‘Mr. President we want our senator not your senator,'” Manchin told supporters, who repeatedly interrupted him with chants of “Joe! Joe! Joe!”
While the race remained competitive, Morrisey failed to close the gap with Manchin, who maintained a mid-to-high single-digit lead in the polls for weeks. The consistent lead led to handicappers rating the West Virginia seat as “lean Democrat,” even as other vulnerable incumbents from states that Trump won by a smaller margin remained locked in down-to-the-wire toss-up fights.
Strategists in both parties credit Manchin as a gifted retail politician who has been bolstered by his long ties to West Virginia and virtually 100 percent name recognition in the state, where he served as governor before running for the Senate. He played up his deep connections during his first, and only, debate against Morrisey, who is from New Jersey, earlier this month.
Republicans had hoped that the state’s rightward shift and Trump’s approval in the state would be enough to unseat Manchin.
Morrisey has aligned himself closely with Trump, holding a rally in the state on Friday with the president and another event Monday with Donald Trump Jr.Don John TrumpTrump Jr. calls elderly supporter who was assaulted Trump Jr. hits Howard Stern for going ‘establishment,’ ‘acting like Hillary’ Trump Jr., GOP senator lash out at Facebook for taking down protest pages on stay-at-home orders MORE and Kimberly Guilfoyle as part of his “Stand with Trump” tour.
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Morrisey, during the debate earlier this month, called himself a “conservative fighter” for the president and tried to tie Manchin to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE, name dropping the Democratic presidential nominee nearly 30 times in less than an hour.
But Republicans appeared to be reading the tea leaves ahead of Tuesday night’s election, with the Senate Leadership Fund, a group closely aligned with Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.), telling The Washington Post that it wouldn’t air ads supporting Morrisey during the final week.
— Updated 9:56 p.m.