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Joe Manchin projected as the winner in U.S. Senate race

Several networks are projecting that Joe Manchin is the winner in the U.S. Senate race over Patrick Morrisey. (Manchin Campaign Photo)

Several networks have projected that Joe Manchin is the winner over Patrick Morrisey in a contentious U.S. Senate race in West Virginia with national implications that drew a lot of attention from President Donald Trump.

ABC, Fox News, CBS and The Associated Press projected that Democrat Manchin has defeated Republican Morrisey. With 81 percent of the precincts reporting about 10:20 p.m., Manchin had 50 percent to Morrisey's 46 percent.

During his acceptance speech, an emotional Manchin, who said he was hoarse from a motorcycle ride he took across the state in last-minute campaigning, thanked all of his supporters.

“West Virginia made history tonight,” Manchin said. “Nobody has ever won, nobody in a state in the United States has ever won an election in a state where a president won by 42 points.”

Manchin pledged to continue to fight hard for senior citizens and veterans and said he could not be prouder of the “55 Strong,” those in the education community who stood up during the education strike. He also commended labor for its support during the campaign, particularly United Mine Workers International President Cecil Roberts.

The Democratic senator also had a message for Trump and the bitterness that has developed across the country during the heated campaign, saying we absolutely have to “stop this toxic rhetoric." Trump backed Morrisey during the race, and he made several visits to the Mountain State.

“What West Virginia said loud and clear tonight: 'Mr. President, we want our senator, not your senator,' " Manchin said.

Manchin then added, “Mr. President, I want you to be president of the United States, not the divided states.”

During the campaign. Morrisey said he was the candidate who could best push through the president’s agenda. Manchin, meanwhile, called himself an independent senator who has backed Trump 70 percent of the time.

Recent polls showed the race between the two, which included a heated, televised debate and a parade of political advertisements, was close.

In the televised debate, Morrisey and Manchin differed on their support of Amendment One that stipulates there is no constitutional right to abortion. Morrisey said he supported Amendment One and that he opposes taxpayer funding of abortion. Manchin said, however, he would vote against it. He said he has been pro-life his entire career with exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest. He said the Republican Legislature failed to add those exceptions.

The two also traded barbs over the opioid issue. Manchin chided Morrisey over money he said Morrisey and his family made lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry, which he said poured millions of pills into the state. He also said Morrisey as attorney general had the state settle with pharmaceutical companies for a fraction of the amounts that should have been received

Meanwhile, Morrisey pointed out that Manchin’s daughter is the chief executive officer of Mylan Pharmaceutical that sold EpiPen for excessive amounts.

The attorney general repeatedly criticized Manchin as a liberal who supported former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and who has close ties to Democrats such as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Manchin said Morrisey is an outsider from New Jersey who does not understand West Virginia’s problems and lost in a congressional race in New Jersey.

The two also differed on Trump's next round of tax cuts.

Morrisey said the economy needs to be stimulated and that can be achieved through “Trump’s pro-growth policies.”

Manchin said the corporate tax needs to go back up to what it was a year ago. He said it needs to go back to 25 percent and “take all the exemptions off from all of his wealthy friends that have benefited from this.”

Manchin was seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate for a seat he first gained in 2010 in a special election when he succeeded the late Robert Byrd. He was re-elected to a full term in 2012. Before the Senate, Manchin was governor of West Virginia for six years.

Morrisey was elected in 2012 as the state’s first Republican attorney general since 1933. He was re-elected in 2016.

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