Don Blankenship announces spoiler’s bid in West Virginia Senate race

May 21, 2018 GMT

Don Blankenship, who was defeated in his maverick bid for the Republican nomination to run for Senate in West Virginia, said Monday he’ll run as a third party candidate in November, tossing the race in turmoil.

Mr. Blankenship said he has accepted the nomination of the Constitution Party, saying it was a natural fit for his views and suggested he was out for vengeance against President Trump’s political team.

“This time, we won’t get surprised by the lying establishment,” he said. “We were assured by White House political staff that they would not interfere in the primary election. Obviously, that turned out not to be true.”

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the GOP’s nomination in a May 8 primary that turned into a three-man race with him, Mr. Blankenship and Rep. Evan Jenkins. In the waning days of the race, Republicans ganged up on Mr. Blankenship, with Mr. Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging voters to pick anyone but the maverick former coal mine owner, after Mr. Blankenship bizarrely suggested Mr. McConnell was involved in cocaine trafficking.

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The GOP had been hoping the race would be one of its best pickup chances in November, with incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin running in a state Mr. Trump won by more than 40 percentage points.

Mr. Blankenship’s independent bid complicates the picture.

In that 2016 presidential race, the Constitution Party’s nominee won about half a percentage point of the vote. In 2014, the last time the state had a U.S. Senate race, the Constitution Party nominee in that race also won slightly more than half a percentage point.