Say no to Don Blankenship in West Virginia

West Virginia holds its primary tomorrow. Republicans will select a candidate to run against the very vulnerable Sen. Joe Manchin. I wrote about the race and the debate among the three major candidates here.

I favor Patrick Morrisey, the state’s Attorney General. He’s the most reliably conservative of the three main candidates, in my view.

That’s not why I’m writing this post, though. I’m writing to encourage our West Virginia readers NOT to vote for Don Blankenship, in the unlikely event that any are considering doing so.

Blankenship was sentenced to a year in federal prison after a West Virginia jury found him culpable for a mine explosion that killed 29 miners. If that isn’t three strikes in a West Virginia general election the GOP desperately needs to win, it should be two.

The third strike is, or should be, the campaign Blankenship is running. Blankenship has dubbed the majority leader of the Senate “cocaine Mitch.” On what basis? A shipment of drugs reportedly was found on a ship owned by a shipping company run by McConnell’s wife’s father.

Blankenship may think he is emulating the president here. But Trump has never reached that depth of nastiness in any of the derogatory nicknames he pins on his adversaries. And even if he had, that would be no excuse for Blankenship’s sickening low blow.

It turns out, moreover, that Trump doesn’t want Blankenship to win. Today, the president urged voters to oppose the former former mine operator.

Trump argues that Blankenship’s nomination would lead to a replay of the party’s embarrassing loss last year in Alabama. He tweeted:

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!

Trump is right, I think, about the general election. Moreover, a Blankenship victory would hurt Republicans even before the general election is held in November.

Here’s why. If Blankenship wins, Manchin will feel safe, and thus to vote “no” on Trump’s judicial nominees, as well as nominees for key jobs in the administration.

If Blankenship loses, Manchin will know he is in danger. Thus, he likely will vote like a Republican from now until election. And come January, an actual Republican, Morrisey or Jenkins, will likely assume the seat.

For these reasons, the West Virginia race is probably the most important primary of the year. Republicans should follow President Trump’s advice and “vote for Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey.”

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