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Don Blankenship can’t run as a third-party candidate due to West Virginia’s “sour grapes” law

Blankenship has lost his Senate bid.

Republican Senate Candidate For West Virginia Don Blankenship Holds Primary Night Attend Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Don Blankenship will not be the Republican nominee for US Senate in West Virginia, but for a few minutes, he floated the idea of running in the general election as a third-party candidate, per CNN’s Ryan Noble.

Blankenship, trailing in third place behind state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins, addressed supporters on Tuesday night, frankly stating, “It doesn’t look good right now.”

But as Noble noted, the candidate also teased the idea that he might consider a third-party bid down the line, if Jenkins were able to pull ahead of Morrissey, the Republican primary frontrunner.

But if Blankenship wants to run as a third-party candidate in November 2018, he’s going to be sorely disappointed. West Virginia has a “sore loser” or “sour grapes” law. Candidates “affiliated with a recognized political party who run for election in a primary election” and lose the nomination cannot turn around, register as a minor-party candidate, and run again in the general election.

In other words, Blankenship 2018 cannot rise again. At least not this year.

Sore loser laws like the one on West Virginia’s books are exactly what they sound like — and they’re fairly common. All states save for three, Connecticut, Iowa, and New York, have these laws on the books to make sure that when candidates have lost, they are truly out of the race, according to a 2011 Georgetown Law Review article by Emory associate law professor Michael Kang.

This issue came up during the 2016 presidential election when Donald Trump openly mulled the possibility of a third-party bid if he failed to secure the Republican nomination for president.

Later on Tuesday, it seemed Blankenship had backed off the idea of running as a third-party candidate, per Noble.

“He said a write in campaign wouldn’t be ‘viable’ and if he finishes in 3rd place an Indy run of any kind wouldn’t have the impact he wants,” Noble tweeted.

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