- Associated Press - Thursday, August 3, 2017

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Federal campaign records show West Virginia’s U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin with $3.5 million in his re-election fund, Rep. Evan Jenkins with $1.2 million for his challenge and no filing yet by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, though a super PAC backing him has begun raising money.

While the candidates all say they’re getting contributions from West Virginians, the 2018 election has already begun to attract significant amounts of money from out-of-state interests and national political operatives.

Manchin, a Democrat and former governor seeking a second full six-year Senate term, reported almost $1.3 million of individual contributions in the past six months and more than $650,000 from other committees. They included, for example, $10,000 from the Montana-based Treasure State Political Action Committee, which supports congressional Democrats.

“To date, Sen. Manchin’s campaign has received more than $300,000 in contributions from West Virginians,” spokeswoman Jessica Tice said. His focus is their health care, pension benefits for retired coal miners, solutions for the drug epidemic and new jobs in the state, she said.

Jenkins, a Republican second-term congressman, reported $355,000 from individual contributions and $326,000 from other committees. They include, among others, $5,000 from the Arlington, Virginia-based Boeing Company PAC.

Since the beginning of the year, Jenkins has raised more than $230,000 from hundreds of West Virginians, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total raised from individuals, campaign spokesman Andy Sere said. “While we appreciate the support of folks across the country who believe Evan can help turn this country around, nothing is more important to Evan than having the support of his fellow Mountaineers,” he said.

The 35th Inc. super PAC, formed in March, reported raising only $20,000, with $10,000 coming from Kansas-based Koch Industries. Morrisey, a Republican, declared his candidacy in mid-July. Republican political operatives Phil Cox and Leonardo Alcivar told the Washington Times in early May that the super PAC was launched to channel efforts against Manchin and to clear the way for Morrisey.

Under federal rules, super PACs cannot coordinate with individual candidates or their campaigns. They have no fundraising or spending limits.

Morrisey campaign spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said Morrisey started fundraising a few weeks ago. She said they’re hoping for a wide range of support from West Virginians and declined to comment on the super PAC.

Patrick Morrisey has been a proven fighter for conservative values - on coal, on health care, on guns, and on life - and there are many conservatives across the state and the country who are rallying around his message,” she said.

Elected last year to a second four-year term as West Virginia’s attorney general, Morrisey received heavy support from the Republican Attorneys General Association.

The Washington-based group’s political action committee bought almost $6.8 million in ads promoting Morrisey and attacking his Democratic opponent, outspending either one. Morrisey was named the association’s chairman this year.

According to state campaign records, four other West Virginians have filed pre-candidacy notices of their plans to run for the Senate seat.

They include Republican Bo Copley, of Lenore, a miner who confronted Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton last year over her remarks about cutting coal mining jobs. Others are Republicans Jack Newbrough of Weirton and Scott Ernst of Union and Democrat and Chase Henderson of Huntington.

Copley filed his statement of candidacy with the federal commission in July.

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