Blankenship Says He’ll Run Third-Party In West Virginia Senate Race

on March 1, 2018 in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

Don Blankenship isn’t done being a thorn in the side of the GOP.

The ex-con former coal baron announced Monday morning that he plans to run as the Constitution Party’s nominee for Senate, a move that could damage his former party’s chances at defeating Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) if he’s able to actually get on the ballot.

That’s a big if, however, as West Virginia has a “sore loser” law that prevents candidates who lose primaries for a race to switch parties and run in the general election for the same seat.

“It is especially appropriate for me to be nominated by the Constitution Party given its staunch and uncompromising commitment to upholding the United States Constitution.  My First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment rights were violated when I was falsely charged and politically imprisoned following the unfortunate mining accident at Upper Big Branch — a tragedy wholly caused by the actions of the establishment and the federal government,” Blankenship claimed in a statement.

The announcement came after weeks of complaints by Blankenship about his treatment in the West Virginia GOP Senate race, which he finished in third place earlier this month, losing to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).

Blankenship’s bid has been long on braggadocio and short on actual results, as evidenced by his poor showing in the GOP primary. But if he pushes a legal challenge and successfully gets on the ballot this fall — or mounts a write-in bid —  he could cost Morrisey votes from the right and help Manchin stay in office, boosting Democrats’ chances in the battle for the Senate. Getting on the ballot appears to be an uphill fight, but not an impossible one for a man with seemingly unlimited resources and a deep grudge against seemingly everyone in the state political establishment.

He’s kept up his attacks against Morrisey since his loss, while further fueling his feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). And he’s seemed to have added President Trump to his enemies list following Trump’s last-minute intervention into the race to encourage voters to back another candidate.

“This time we won’t get surprised by the lying establishment. We were assured by White House political staff that they would not interfere in the primary election.  Obviously, that turned out not to be true.  Now that we know that the establishment will lie and resort to anything else necessary to defeat me, we are better prepared than before,” he declared.

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