Milt Hankins: Is Evan Jenkins just the consummate opportunist?

April 23, 2018 GMT

According to the current ads, West Virginia has three prominent Republicans running in the primary to face Senator and former governor Joe Manchin for his seat in the U.S. Senate.

They are U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins (Huntington), Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (Charleston), and former coal baron Don Blankenship (Nevada).

Others running include virtual unknowns Thomas (Tom) Willis of Martinsburg, Bo Copley of Delbarton and Jack Newbrough of Weirton,

Those who pay close attention to the TV ads of Jenkins, Blankenship,and Morrisey must wonder who is the most off-track and the biggest liar.

It appears to me that Jenkins wins the prize for opportunism. He’s been playing that deceptive, switcheroo game for about 30 years now.

He’s in good company with Jim Justice and others who skip from one party to another to get elected or to curry favor with the party in power, i.e. as the state voters go, so do I. May I ask what has Governor Jim Justice got us by switching to the Republican Party and cozying up to President Donald Trump? But, I digress

PolitiFact reports: “Jenkins has changed his party affiliation multiple times. He was initially registered as a Democrat, switched to Republican, and back to Democrat when he sought a seat in the House of Delegates in Cabell-Wayne County, W.Va., in 1993. He remained a Democrat until July 2013, when he switched back to the Republican Party to successfully challenge U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.”

Morrisey’s campaign points to the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Act, saying Jenkins voted for it and Manchin signed is as governor in 2009. As a matter of conjecture, Jenkins may have supported Bill Clinton at one time. Yet, now, he uses Hillary Clinton in his latest campaign ad, implying she wanted to take away “our guns.” Truth is, no Democrat wants to take away everyone’s guns. Democrats want to strengthen gun control legislation as to who gets their hands on assault-style weapons.

As to health care, according to the WV Democratic Party webpage, “Either Jenkins is ignorant of the true effects of [the Republican healthcare bill] or he’s lying to his constituents. Both are unacceptable,” said Belinda Biafore, chair. “This is the latest in a long line of falsehoods from Evan Jenkins about the negative effects of the Republican health care bill. This bill - which Jenkins voted for - would devastate hard-working families in West Virginia, severely limiting their access to quality care, and undermine our response to the opioid crisis, both of which Jenkins promised to prevent.”

What does Jenkins believe and how will he vote? Is he, deep down, a Democrat or a Republican? Of course, it seems that, according to his ad, he’s hugging up to Donald Trump to “Make America Great Again.” Truth is, we don’t know what Jenkins believes or what he stands for.

So, who wants to play Evan Jenkins’s game? Trust me, my West Virginia friends, when you vote for Evan Jenkins, like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you are getting.

Milt Hankins is a theologian, former pastor and local author. His website is columnistwithaview.com.