Manchin gets a GOP challenger

West Virginia Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins announced Monday he will challenge Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Morrisey accuses Manchin of 'lying' to Trump, attacks ‘liberal’ record MORE (D-W.Va.) next year.

Manchin is seen as one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats in the country, and represents a state easily won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE in last year's election.

The former governor is also one of the best-known politicians in his state, however, and he has worked carefully to cultivate an independent image. 

That's an image Jenkins will look to attack; on Monday, he argued that Manchin had "changed" since coming to Washington in 2010. 

ADVERTISEMENT
"Joe changed when he got to Washington. West Virginia values? Not anymore," Jenkins says in an announcement vide on his campaign website.

Jenkins focuses on Manchin's decision to author compromise legislation in 2013 that would have strengthened background checks on gun sales. That bill, which failed in the Senate, is proof that Manchin won't stand up for the Second Amendment, Jenkins said.

"Joe Manchin broke that promise, violating our values and pushing gun control with Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaEx-White House stenographer: Trump is ‘lying to the American people’ Trump has the right foreign policy strategy — he just needs to stop talking The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump faces bipartisan criticism over Putin presser, blames media for coverage MORE and the New York liberals," Jenkins says, as footage plays of then-President Obama and others talking about Manchin's work on the bill.

Jenkins is a top recruit for the seat, so his entry will help boost Republican hopes that the party can knock off Manchin. Other Republicans are publicly weighing a bid, including fellow Reps. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyOvernight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process Koch backs House measure opposing carbon taxes This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE and Alex Mooney, along with state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

West Virginia is one of the 10 states where Democrats are defending a Senate seat in a state won by President Trump in 2016.

Republicans are also defending just eight seats overall compared to 25 for Democrats. 

Trump won a larger share of the vote in West Virginia than in any state except Wyoming, a fact Jenkins played up.

"With Donald Trump in the White House, we've got a real chance to turn things around," Jenkins says as video of Trump meeting with miners plays on the screen. 

"He needs our help and I need your help."

This story was updated at 4:29 .m.