Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia's Republican attorney general, is considering running for Senate in 2018 against Democrat incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, according to The Hill.
He is likely to run, but Morrisey told The Hill, "Right now, my principal focus has to be being the best attorney general I could possibly be."
The Hill reported that in West Virginia, the No. 2 coal producing state in the U.S., both Morrisey and Manchin are going after the support of coal miners and their communities.
Morrisey has criticized Manchin for supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, saying, "I was deeply disappointed that Sen. Manchin so strongly endorsed Hillary Clinton, when she would have been such a disaster for West Virginians."
Republican state attorneys general and Manchin are involved in a lawsuit against The Environmental Protection Agency over the Clean Power Plan. "It's been one of a number of factors that have caused a significant job loss in West Virginia," Morrisey said.
On Dec. 14, 2016, Morrisey took the lead among 24 attorneys general in a letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The letter urged Trump to repeal the plan as soon as he takes office. "An executive order on day one is critical," the letter said.
A GOP candidate such as Morrisey could have a good chance of taking Manchin's seat —The Hill reported that West Virginia is growing more Republican. Trump won the state by more than 40 percentage points over Clinton.
"The state has gone really, really red. And Morrisey's done a good job of leading the charge for the coal industry against environmental regulations from the EPA," according to West Virginia University law school professor Jamie Van Nostrand in The Hill's report.
Manchin has joined up with Republicans against Democrats by opposing EPA rules that would harm the coal industry in the state, and he has earned praise from Trump's incoming White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who said in a tweet that Manchin was an example of "putting peoples' interests above politics," according to The Hill.
In the 2016 re-election campaign, Morrisey's opponent referred to him as a "carpetbagger." The attorney general grew up in New Jersey has only lived in West Virginia for 11 years, the Hill reported.
The chairwoman of West Virginia's Democratic Party, Belinda Biafore, slammed Morrisey, according to the Hill report.
"Morrisey is just job shopping. He is an out-of-stater who finished dead last when he tried to run for Congress in New Jersey… now he is trying to get back to D.C., where he is right at home in the swamp," Biafore said.
She added, "He spent more time living there than West Virginia, after all. He is an opportunist, plain and simple."
The Democratic senator, on the other hand, was born and raised in West Virginia. His grandparents immigrated to the state, according to The Hill.
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