CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former coal executive Don Blankenship plans to file paperwork Tuesday to run for the U.S. Senate as a member of the Constitution Party, his campaign announced Monday.
The campaign said Blankenship does not expect the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office to certify his candidacy, adding he will challenge the action.
Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, finished third in the Republican primary for Senate earlier this year. He announced two weeks after the primary his acceptance of the Constitution Party’s nomination.
The state’s “sore loser” law says individuals running in a primary for a recognized political party cannot change their registration in order run in the general election.
Lawmakers amended the law during the legislative session to better define the state law, which went into effect June 7.
Huntington attorney Marc Williams is representing the state in defending the law; West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is running for U.S. Senate as the Republican Party’s candidate.
“The political establishment cannot retroactively enact laws that prohibit individuals who become members of some political parties from being on the ballot while allowing individuals who become members of other political parties to be on the ballot,” the Blankenship campaign said.
“This is what the Communist or Nazi party would do and is a perfect example of political party behavior that violates an American’s guaranteed right to equal opportunity,” the campaign added. “It is a clearly discriminatory law and exactly what George Washington warned of in his farewell address.”
Blankenship said in a lengthy Facebook post neither Morrisey nor Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is best suited to represent West Virginians.
“Let me me (sic) clear: President Trump is doing all he can personally do to Make America Great Again. But he cannot do it with Morrisey, McConnell, or Manchin on his side, let alone with them against him,” he said. “No one can Make America Great Again until the fools in Congress learn the difference between issues endangering America’s very existence versus tabloid issues, like gossip and drama.”
Blankenship served a one-year sentence in connection with the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, in which 29 coal miners died. His probation concluded May 9, a day after the primary election.
Blankenship’s Republican campaign included calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “Cocaine Mitch” for one report of cocaine found on a ship owned by a company founded by his father-in-law, and calling McConnell’s family “China people.”
McConnell’s wife is Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, whose family immigrated from Taiwan when she was a child.