In West Virginia, Republicans Don Blankenship, Rep. Evan Jenkins, and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey are vying for a chance to take on Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin in November. Manchin is vulnerable in a deep-red state that Donald Trump won by 42 points in 2016, but he has a long political history in West Virginia.
Jenkins and Morrisey are seen as conventional candidates, but Blankenship — a former coal baron who spent a year in prison after an explosion at his mine killed 29 people — has upended the race. Blankenship has run ads claiming his conviction was a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration. He’s also launched a scorched-earth campaign against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, attacking him as a “Swamp Monster” and, bizarrely, “Cocaine Mitch.” He’s also hurled racist attacks referring to McConnell’s “China family.”
Trump weighed in on the race this week, urging voters to “Remember Alabama” and not vote for Blankenship because he can’t win a general election. But while Trump is hoping to avoid another Roy Moore situation, two internal polls from the West Virginia campaigns found Blankenship with a slight lead over Jenkins and Morrisey.