GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins to challenge Democratic Sen. Manchin

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Congressman Evan Jenkins has announced he will challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia in next year’s midterm election.

Jenkins’ candidacy ensures the West Virginia race will be one of the top Senate contests of 2018 as Manchin tries to hang onto his seat in a deep-red state.

Manchin is a popular former governor who is among the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, but West Virginia is increasingly hostile territory for his party. The state went for President Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 40 percentage points last year.

Jenkins, in his second term, released an announcement video Monday in which he accused Manchin of losing touch with West Virginia values.

Republicans currently control the Senate by a slim 52-48 margin.