Blankenship on 'Cocaine Mitch' Backlash: 'Joe Manchin Has so Much More Baggage'

  • Blankenship on 'Cocaine Mitch' Backlash: 'Joe Manchin Has so Much More Baggage'

Blankenship on 'Cocaine Mitch' Backlash: 'Joe Manchin Has so Much More Baggage'

On Tuesday, Fox News hosted a GOP primary debate between three candidates - Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and businessman Don Blankenship - who are competing for the seat that is now held by Democratic Sen. How can West Virginians trust Evan Jenkins to stand up for their conservative values when he's fighting the Trump administration and fighting to keep Obama's EPA regulations?

Three Republicans qualified: Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors; Nick Freitas, a state delegate; and E.W. Jackson, a minister.

Republican Don Blankenship doesn't care if his party and his president don't think he can beat Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in November.

National Review calls Jenkins "conventional" and says a vote for Blankenship, who spent a year behind bars on a charge related to a deadly mine collapse, would "risk throwing away a winnable Senate race". The victor of the primary will face off against Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin in the general election.

But in interviews this past week, Morrisey and Jenkins declined to attack Blankenship for his role in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster, the deadliest US mine disaster in four decades, killing 29 men. While Blankenship's bid is a long shot, he's testing whether a party led by an anti-establishment outsider can rein in its anti-establishment impulses.

MacCallum added that, despite those situations, his performance in the Fox News debate on Tuesday evening may have bumped his poll numbers up by as many as eight points.

The state has always been considered a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans, who hold a two-seat Senate majority that suddenly feels less secure given signs of Democratic momentum in Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee and elsewhere.

Blankenship has expressed admiration for Trump's ability to confound expectations and win the White House.

When debate moderator Bret Baier asked how Blankenship would work with McConnell if elected, given his penchant for "slinging insults", he insisted it would not be a problem. During an interview on a West Virginia radio show last week, Blankenship suggested that McConnell has a conflict of interest on foreign relations issues because Chao's father is a "wealthy Chinaperson". "Now they're running ads saying the coal mine blew up, and I went to prison".

Toward the end of the 30-second ad, Blankenship refers to the majority leader as "Cocaine Mitch" while talking about making children a priority.