- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2018

The GOP’s Don Blankenship nightmare isn’t over.

Greg Thomas, a Blankenship spokesman, said Thursday that the former coal baron plans to do whatever he can to stop Republican Senate nominee Patrick Morrisey, the state’s attorney general, from winning West Virginia’s Senate race this fall.

Don Blankenship will not be supporting Patrick Morrisey for U.S. Senate,” Mr. Thomas said on Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval. “I think right now he has a lot to think about. Don is researching and evaluating his options.”

“He is taking a couple weeks off and he will be making a decision soon about exactly what he is going to do,” Mr. Thomas said. “But I think the one thing he is going to make sure doesn’t happen is that Patrick Morrisey doesn’t become a U.S. senator.”

That menu of options apparently includes anything from bankrolling anti-Morrisey television ads to running as or supporting a third-party candidate.

“As of today, all options are on the table,” Mr. Thomas said, adding that Mr. Blankenship also does not want Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III to win re-election.

Asked to respond, Nachama Soloveichik, a Morrisey representative, chose not to engage, saying there is a “stark difference between Patrick Morrisey and Joe Manchin.”

Morrisey is a proven conservative who is supported by President Trump, defeated Obama’s War on Coal and expanded gun rights in West Virginia,” she said.

Mr. Blankenship, the former Massey Energy CEO who spent a year in federal prison in connection with a deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 men, finished third in Tuesday’s GOP primary behind Mr. Morrisey and second-place finisher Rep. Evan Jenkins.

Mr. Trump came out against Mr. Blankenship in the final days of the primary campaign, joining GOP leaders and groups aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who worried that Mr. Blankenship could not defeat Mr. Manchin in the general election.

Chris Pack, spokesman for the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund, which attacked Mr. Blankenship in the primary, blasted his plans.

“Instead of helping Joe Manchin, Don Blankenship should start helping the widows and children of the Big Branch miners who died while he got rich,” Mr. Pack said.

The West Virginia Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Before the primary, Mr. Blankenship said that he couldn’t stomach the possibility of supporting Mr. Morrisey in November and teased the idea of a third-party bid if he lost the nomination race.

On Thursday, Mr. Thomas said Mr. Blankenship is “a man of his word” and said he has not ruled out a third-party bid.

But it remains to be seen can get around West Virginia’s “sore loser” or “sour grapes” law, which bars primary losers from changing their “voter registration to a minor party organization/unaffiliated candidate to take advantage of the later filing deadlines and have their name on the subsequent general election ballot.”

“The answer to that is we don’t know yet,” Mr. Thomas said. “It is not our understanding right now that it is an impossibility, but we are not saying it is a definite possibility.”

Mr. Thomas said Mr. Blankenship is too invested in the West Virginia GOP to sit on the sidelines and watch Mr. Morrisey — a New Jersey native who ran for Congress there in 2000 — represent the state.

“He is not going to sit back and let a corrupt carpetbagger hijack our party,” he said.

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