CHARLESTON – Don Blankenship will not be supporting Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the U.S. Senate race against incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin.
Greg Thomas, campaign manager for Blankenship in the primary, also says the last-minute tweet by President Donald Trump erased any momentum the former Massey Energy CEO had going into Election Day.
“It took intervention from the President of the United States with an 84 percent approval rating (in West Virginia) to stop us from winning,” Thomas told Hoppy Kercheval on MetroNews’ statewide Talkline radio program May 10. “We had a lead. … Everything was done. It was the day before. It was the last thing that anybody heard about going in.”
Thomas said several polls showed Blankenship leading the race just days before the election. Then, Trump made his early-morning tweet urging West Virginians to vote for either Morrisey or U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins.
“To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State...No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!” Trump tweeted.
Blankenship finished third behind those two in the May 8 Republican primary.
“And look, Donald Trump has an 84 percent approval rating in West Virginia among Republicans, and that hurt,” Thomas said.
Thomas said the tweet caused Blankenship to lose supporters who had just joined him a few days before following the May 1 Fox debate.
Blankenship finished nearly 21,000 votes behind Morrisey Tuesday and 13,000 behind Jenkins. Thomas said President Trump’s tweet made that much of a difference.
Turning focus to November, Thomas told Kercheval “all options are on the table” for Blankenship. That includes supporting a third-party candidate or even challenging the state law that doesn’t allow a losing primary candidate file as a third-party candidate in the general election.
“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 told Kercheval. “Don Blankenship does not believe it should be Patrick Morrisey and he doesn’t believe it should be Joe Manchin.
“We’ve only just begun.”
Thomas also said Trump called Blankenship after the election, but he wouldn’t disclose what they said.
For now, Thomas said Blankenship is taking a few weeks off.
“I think the one thing he is going to make sure doesn’t happen is that Patrick Morrisey becomes a U.S. senator,” Thomas said. “Don hasn’t backed down from anybody in 68 years and he’s not going to stop now. Don is going to do what he believes is best. …
“No, Don Blankenship will not be supporting Patrick Morrisey for U.S. Senate. Don Blankenship has worked real hard to advance conservative causes, to help the Republican Party in West Virginia and he isn’t going to sit back and let a corrupt carpetbagger hijack our party just so his wife’s lobbying firm can continue to cash in.”
A spokeswoman for Morrisey’s campaign said there is a “stark difference” between Morrisey and Manchin, but declined to elaborate on Blankenship’s comments.
“Morrisey is a proven conservative who is supported by President Trump, defeated Obama’s War on Coal and expanded gun rights in West Virginia,” Nachama Soloveichik said. “Sen. Manchin supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, signed cap-and-trade legislation and sponsored a massive gun control bill. West Virginia voters have a choice between a proven conservative fighter who gets things done and a consummate liberal who hasn't delivered for West Virginia.”