The Democrat-turned-Republican Senate Candidates

Their past party affiliations don't make winning the nomination any easier.

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W. Va., is joined by other House Republicans as he talks about legislation passed this week to combat opioid addiction, Friday, My 13, 2016, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The current opioid epidemic has plagued the entire country, but has hit Jenkins' state of West Virginia harder than most. The House and Senate are now ready to start crafting compromise legislation addressing the nation's opioid abuse crisis, a problem that is killing people in America's biggest cities and smallest towns.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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Kimberly Railey
March 1, 2018, 5:48 a.m.

Republicans running in three of the Senate’s biggest battlegrounds are taking plenty of primary heat for their past ties to the Democratic Party.

In West Virginia, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s latest digital ad calls him “West Virginia’s conservative fighter,” a theme he has repeatedly promoted while knocking Rep. Evan Jenkins’s time as a Democrat. Morrisey has used it as a wedge since declaring in his announcement video, “You’ll never have to worry about me wavering in my conservative values.”

Former state Rep. Mike Braun has come under fire for his record of voting in Indiana Democratic primaries until 2012. Braun has said he did so to advance Republican interests in his traditionally Democratic hometown. But Rep. Todd Rokita is continuing to hammer him over it, derisively saying at a GOP debate last week, “Welcome to the Republican Party, Mike.”

And in Wisconsin, state Sen. Leah Vukmir has slammed Kevin Nicholson’s tenure as president of the College Democrats of America and called herself the only “consistent conservative” in the race. The dynamic has gotten more personal lately: Recent campaign finance reports revealed that Nicholson’s parents and brother have both donated to the Democrat he hopes to challenge, Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

-- Kimberly Railey


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