West Virginia GOP voters rejected the insurgent candidate of ex-convict coal baron Don Blankenship during Tuesday night’s primary where the outsider came in third after a heated race.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the Republican Senate primary handily according to the Associated Press. Morrisey will go on to face Democrat Joe Manchin, who easily won his primary Tuesday night, in the upcoming November general election.
The race had drawn national attention as Manchin is considered a vulnerable candidate; Trump previously won the state by 40 percent in 2016.
BREAKING: State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey wins Republican primary in U.S. Senate race in West Virginia. Convicted ex-coal CEO Don Blankenship loses. @AP race call at 10:19 p.m. EDT. #Election2018 #APracecall pic.twitter.com/8rMlxWKRR9
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) May 9, 2018
The GOP establishment was worried that former Massey Energy CEO Blankenship was too toxic to win since he recently served one year in federal prison for conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards in the lead up to one of the worst mining disaster in decades, which killed 29 miners in 2010.
To counter the controversial candidate, a super PAC connected to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began launching a series of attack ads against the former coal baron in the weeks leading up to the vote.
In response, Blankenship launched a bizarre series of ads, calling McConnell “cocaine Mitch” and claiming McConnell was “soft on China” because his wife’s father is “a wealthy China person” who has “a lot of connections to some of the brass, if you will, in China.” During an interview with ABC News Tuesday night after polls closed, Blankenship defended his statements against McConnell.
Blankenship told reporters Tuesday night he had “no regrets” about the way he ran his race in a concession speech around 10 p.m. “It didn’t work out,” he said.
Blankenship’s parole is set to end at 12:01 a.m. May 9th — just hours after polls closed. “I feel very good tonight,” he told the crowd, saying he’ll have more time to spend with his family and traveling to places like Paris, “Don’t feel sorry for me.”
In the closing days of the campaign, President Trump himself weighed in, tweeting Monday morning, that Blankenship “can’t win the General Election in your State … No way! Remember Alabama.”
Ultimately, it appears, Blankenship had too much baggage and too much opposition to overcome. Voters soundly rejected him. And even his supporters appeared eager to forget the night, with one report that well before the results were announced cars were lining up to leave the parking lot from the Marriott hotel where Blankenship was holding his primary night party.