- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2018

West Virginia’s Supreme Court kicked a potential spoiler candidate off the ballot Wednesday in the state’s critical Senate race, ruling that he lost the GOP primary and can’t now run under another party’s banner.

The ruling means Don Blankenship won’t appear on the ballot. That could boost Patrick Morrisey, the state’s attorney general, who defeated Mr. Blankenship in the primary and who now faces Sen. Joe Manchin III in November.

Mr. Blankenship, after losing the primary, said he would try to find a way to get on the ballot anyway, and eventually accepted the nomination of the Constitution Party.



But the secretary of state said West Virginia’s sore loser law prevented him from taking another crack at the office after losing the primary.

The Supreme Court said that was the correct decision.

“The West Virginia secretary of state is ordered to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that Donald L. Blankenship does not appear on the 2018 general election ballot for the Office of United States senator for the state of West Virginia,” the justices ruled.

Mr. Blankenship called the ruling an affront to democracy, saying the GOP had “slandered” him during the campaign to keep him from winning the party’s nod, and now fought to keep him from being part of another ticket.

“Americans desperately need to pay attention as the politicians continue to move voters to the sidelines and out of the election process,” he said. “My attorneys and I will be evaluating our next steps.”

Mr. Blankenship had shaken up the GOP primary with negligent allegations that one Republican senator had been complicit in cocaine trafficking, and other outrageous claims.

The race got so wild that President Trump stepped in and endorsed both Mr. Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins — telling voters anyone would be better than Mr. Blankenship.

Mr. Blankenship ended up coming in third.

Republicans are eyeing the West Virginia race as one of their pickup opportunities in the Senate, given Mr. Trump’s popularity in the state. He won it in 2016 by 40 percentage points.

Mr. Morrisey said Wednesday that with Mr. Blankenship out of the race he now has a clear battle with Mr. Manchin.

“No more distractions to hide lying liberal Joe Manchin’s record of supporting pro-abortion policies, gun control, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign against coal miners,” the candidate said in a statement.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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