Don Blankenship, a former coal executive, was defeated in West Virginia’s Republican Senate primary Tuesday night, despite seemingly gaining momentum in the final days of the race.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the primary and will face vulnerable Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November; Morrisey came in six percentage points ahead of Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV, 3rd).
Blankenship, the former Massey Energy CEO, was convicted of a misdemeanor related to a mine explosion that killed 29 men and was on supervised release during the primary. He also drew attention for attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during his campaign, referring to his “China family.” McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, was born in Taiwan and her parents are Chinese.
Republicans had been concerned that Blankenship, if nominated, would be unelectable in the general election, clearing an easier path to victory for Manchin in the fall. President Donald Trump urged West Virginians to vote for either of the other two candidates in a tweet on Monday morning and referenced the Senate seat Republicans lost in Alabama last year due to a controversial candidate. “…Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win in the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama.”