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Nick Saban, Bob Huggins and Jerry West star in latest Joe Manchin ad

By Alex Thomas

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Three of West Virginia’s most recognizable sports figures are standing behind U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in this year’s Senate contest.

University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame player Jerry West endorsed Manchin, with all three appearing in an advertisement released Wednesday supporting the Democratic incumbent.

“Joe and I grew up together in West Virginia, and he never forgets where he came from,” said Saban, a Fairmont native.

“I don’t have a better friend or know a better person than Joe Manchin.”

Huggins, who was born in Morgantown, said there is no one in West Virginia that loves that state more than Manchin.

“I’m proud to tell people that Joe Manchin is my U.S. senator,” he added.

As for West, who played at WVU before going to the Los Angeles Lakers, he praised Manchin’s bipartisan outreach.

“My friend Joe works with Republicans and Democrats to get things done,” said West, who grew up in East Bank.

The Bipartisan Index of the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy puts Manchin at 16th out of 98 spots, and FiveThirtyEight notes Manchin votes 60.8 percent in line with President Donald Trump’s agenda, the highest percentage among Democratic senators.

The new advertisement comes after the campaign of Manchin’s opponent, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, announced a string of events with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr.