West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) has suddenly launched into full-on attack mode against ex-con coal baron Don Blankenship (R) ahead of the primary, the latest sign that Blankenship is a real threat to win on Tuesday.
Morrisey’s campaign is out with a digital ad ripping Blankenship as a “convicted criminal” who will blow a winnable Senate race, the first paid media from one of Blankenship’s actual opponents highlighting his role in the deaths of 29 mine workers. The spot follows a weekend robocall and press conference warning the same.
“Twenty-nine miners killed at Upper Big Branch Mine, owned and operated by Don Blankenship’s company. Families devastated, children left fatherless, wives widowed,” the ad’s narrator intones. “Blankenship was convicted and sentenced to prison for willfully conspiring to violate mine safety standards.”
Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) have mostly trained their fire on one another throughout the campaign, letting a GOP super-PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) do the dirty work against Blankenship.
That seemed to be working a few weeks ago, when polls found Morrisey and Jenkins up by double digits. But in the past week Blankenship seems to have caught some momentum, terrifying national Republicans who believe he’d cost them any chance of defeating Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) if he’s their nominee. In recent days, a number of internal polls show him rising, though they disagree on who has the lead in the race.
That’s led to a last-minute scramble to stop him once again, culminating in a tweet from President Trump Monday morning begging voters not to back him.
The spot also highlights Blankenship’s legal residency in Nevada and warns that “liberal Democrats will easily defeat him.”
“A convicted criminal or a proven conservative: That’s your choice,” the ad concludes.