May 27, 2018

Could Don Blankenship, the Trump of West Virginia, Cost Republicans the Senate?

08 May 2018, 01:29 | Simon Arnold

GOP Rep. Jim Renacci is a top GOP candidate in Ohio in Republicans’ bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown

Shown here are maps and campaign signs at Republican headquarters in Wadsworth Ohio

In the three-way West Virginia primary, some Republicans are concerned that a victory by Blankenship would mean a winnable seat becomes almost impossible to defend, repeating the results in Alabama. Joe Manchin, the fall, for the same reason Judge Roy Moore lost to Sen.

Blankenship was criticized after he released an ad calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "Cocaine Mitch" and McConnell's in-laws his "China family".

Trump wrote on Monday, "To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference".

"Don Blankenship, now running for Senate, can't win the General Election in your State".

On Twitter, the President told West Virginia voters to not vote for Republican candidate Don Blankenship.

The attacks delivered Mr. Blankenship's survey amounts rebounds, but with Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Morrisey dividing votes, " Mr. Blankenship has stayed in competition.

Though the two situations are not directly comparable - Moore was the incumbent and Blankenship is looking to win a primary to challenge Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin - Trump made the point that a candidate burdened by public backlash will not be as strong as a candidate whose skeletons are still in the closet.

The Mountain Families PAC, a group of Republican strategists with ties to McConnell, has poured almost $745,000 into the race against Blankenship, and Trump himself came out against the coal baron Monday morning. Democrats have their own intraparty drama that could portend what happens in November, which we'll get to. "Does Blankenship winning all of a sudden put this off the table for the Republicans?"

Coal miners are an influential political constituency in West Virginia and Trump's White House victory came amid promises to revive the ailing coal industry. "All the ingredients are there for Blankenship to win-anti-Washington/anti-McConnell rhetoric and a lot of money while the other guys attack each other", the strategist said.

"I'm proud to have President Trump's support", he tweeted.

Some in party leadership are still smarting from the loss in the Alabama senatorial election in which Democrat Doug Jones defeated Moore, a Republican who faced allegations from eight women who have accused him of sexual misconduct when he was in his 30s and, in some cases, the women were in their teens. "I'm the only candidate in this race who has backed Donald Trump since day one, and I'm working side-by-side with him to America, and West Virginia, Great Again". The establishment is misinforming Trump, Blankenship told NBC Monday. But if the former coal baron somehow wins, it will show just how far off the deep end much of the GOP rank and file has gone in an era when the normal metrics of good and bad seem to have been reversed.

Trump's tweet on Blankenship starkly reveals both of those character traits.

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