On May 8th, 2018, West Virginia held their state primary, the Senate race garnered national attention when a unlikely Republican candidate seemed to make a last minute push to unseat the top two Republican contenders, that candidate was Don Blankenship.
Blankenship who was once the CEO of a large mining company, Massey Energy, is now a convicted criminal, who spent one year in jail, after a jury found that Blankenship conspired to violate Federal Mine and Safety Laws.
The verdict came, on April 6th, 2016, six years and one day after an explosion in Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, claimed the lives of twenty-nine men.
Fast forward to 2018 mid-term primaries, and Blankenship’s surprise run for the West Virginia Senate seat, one seat that the GOP is hopeful, they might pick up in November against Senator Joe Manchin (D).
On May 3rd, and the week that followed Blankenship once again found himself making National News, when an ad appeared.
The thirty-one second ad which is delivered in a monotone voice describes the Chinese as “Chinapeople,” goes on to state that Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), got rich off his “Chinafamily,” and at the end declares, “Ditch Cocaine Mitch.”
Despite the racist overtones of the ad and the campaign in general, Blankenship had started climbing in the polls, promoting a certain level of panic in the GOP which lead to a last minute push by President Trump to endorse either Patrick Morrisey or Evan Jenkins via Twitter.
To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
Election night came, and Blankenship finished 3rd, with 27,153 votes, Patrick Morrisey won, with 47,757 votes total.
On Monday Don Blankenship announced he will seek a third party run, under the Constitution Party, which nominated him by a unanimous vote, according to his campaign news release.
According to the West Virginia secretary of state spokesman Steve Adams, who while he confirms Blankenship has switched party affiliation, he does believe, their “sore loser,” or “sour grapes’ law will prohibited Blankenship from actually being on the ballot for the general election.
In a statement from Saturday days before today’s announcement, Mike Queen, the director of communications for the Secretary of State Mac Warner, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail, “The Secretary’s position is that Mr. Blankenship is not permitted to run again in the general election for the United States Senate.” Queen added, that the likely course of action would be for Blankenship to bring legal action that would force the Secretary to approve the third-party run.
On Monday, the election office referred all questions to its chief legal counsel, Steve Connolly said, via The Washington Post, that it was too early to focus on the legality of the candidacy, stating that as of right now, the only tangible thing was that Blankenship had switched parties and issued a press release. That no certificates of nomination have been presented.
In Blankenship’s statement according to the Times article linked above, he said, “We are confident that if challenged our legal position will prevail,” adding, “absent a politically motivated decision by the courts.”
Mid-Term election day is November 6th, 2018.