MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Despite Don Blankenship previously saying he would not support state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s bid for U.S. Senate, West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Melody Potter said she believes the former coal executive will end up backing Morrisey.
“I have a lot of faith that when everyone gets rested up and thinks about things that they’re going to get behind us because they know the best way to defeat (U.S. Sen.) Joe Manchin is to support Patrick Morrisey,” she said on MetroNews “Talkline” last week.
Blankenship finished third in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, behind Morrisey and U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va. Unlike the other four Republican candidates, Blankenship stated he would not back Morrisey, adding he believes the attorney general will follow orders from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. R-Ky., if elected.
“It’s heartbreaking to see West Virginia and America people suffer. If our country does not wake up soon, China will be the world’s only superpower,” he said in a statement. “America First needs to be more than a campaign slogan.”
Blankenship said in an open letter to President Donald Trump his tweet telling voters to support Morrisey or Jenkins likely affected the primary results and was based on “fake news.”
“Patrick Morrisey will likely lose the general election. It’s too late to change that, but it’s not helpful to do to me what others are doing to you,” he said.
Blankenship campaign manager Greg Thomas said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline” that “all options are on the table” when it comes to Blankenship’s future plans, including supporting a third-party candidate. He also said Blankenship is taking “a couple weeks off” before considering his next step.
“If it’s Don Blankenship or another person, I’d say that Don is going to do everything he can to make sure West Virginians get a senator they deserve,” Thomas said.
Potter said she believes Blankenship will stand with Morrisey at a later date.
“We all know it was a very bloody primary and we had six great candidates who ran,” she said. “I just think that people need time to rest and to think about things and, you know, Greg and Mr. Blankenship both have worked within the Republican Party for several years and have done a lot.”
Mike Plante, a Democratic consultant and spokesman for Duty and Country PAC, said Morrisey is coming out of a bitter primary, which could mean supporters of Jenkins and Blankenship feel lethargic about supporting Morrisey’s campaign.
“When we go through primaries, the hope is for the winner is that everyone comes back together and holds hands after the primary and sings ‘Kumbaya’ and march towards November,” he said on “Talkline.” “We don’t have that in this case.”
Duty and Country spent more than $1.8 million on advertisements in the Republican primary, in which around 98 percent of funding was for efforts targeting Jenkins.
Potter said even in light of Blankenship’s position, she is confident Morrisey will defeat Manchin in the general election.
“In 2014, we took control of the Senate and the House (of Delegates) and now we have a Republican governor,” she said. “People got tired, even Democrats, of the Democrat rule in West Virginia for 83 years. And people want to see our state go forward.”