CHARLESTON – Just weeks after losing the Republican primary, Don Blankenship has accepted the nomination to be the Constitution Party's candidate for the U.S. Senate.
The former Massey Energy CEO was nominated by unanimous vote. He will run against Republican Patrick Morrisey and incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin.
"Mr. Blankenship is honored to receive the nomination of the Constitution Party — the nation’s third largest political party in terms of its state affiliates voter registration," a May 21 press release from his campaign stated. "Mr. Blankenship finds that his personal views and the views of the majority of West Virginians are significantly aligned with the Constitution Party’s Platform.
"The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American government behavior to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries."
Phil Hudok, vice chairman of the Constitution Party of West Virginia, said the party is excited to have Blankenship as its candidate.
"This will be a great opportunity to put the principles of our party on display and to elect someone who will represent the values of West Virginians instead of those of the DC establishment," Hudok said.
Blankenship said he is eager to pursue the goals of the Constitution Party.
“I hold in the highest regard the founding principles of the United States Constitution, and I am willing to fight to protect both West Virginia and America from all enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. “It is especially appropriate for me to be nominated by the Constitution Party given its staunch and uncompromising commitment to upholding the United States Constitution.
"My First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment rights were violated when I was falsely charged and politically imprisoned following the unfortunate mining accident at Upper Big Branch — a tragedy wholly caused by the actions of the establishment and the federal government. It is no surprise then that the establishment has worked so hard to cover-up the truth. In fact, were it not for the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a jury trial the Obama Department of Justice would have tyrannically and maliciously imprisoned me for life.”
Blankenship said he plans to wage an aggressive campaign.
"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. Now that we know that the establishment will lie and resort to anything else necessary to defeat me, we are better prepared than before.
“The political establishment is determined to keep me — the most anti-establishment candidate in the nation — out of the United States Senate. Since the Fox News Debate when I regained the lead in the polls (following false ads against me by a Mitch McConnell controlled SuperPAC) the press and the establishment have colluded and lied to convince the public that I am a moron, a bigot, and a felon. They even went so far as to lie about my chances against Senator Joe Manchin in the general election.”
Blankenship said he is confident the establishment will come at him again.
"Although the establishment will likely begin their efforts against us by mounting a legal challenge to my candidacy, we are confident that — if challenged — our legal position will prevail, absent a politically motivated decision by the courts," he said.
Morrisey, the state's Attorney General, won the Republican primary earlier this month. U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins came in second place, and Blankenship third.
West Virginia's "sore loser" or "sour grapes" law is meant to keep losing primary candidates such as Blankenship from running with another party in the general election, but But some legal experts don't think the law would withstand a court challenge.
Shortly after the May 8 election, Blankenship had said he wouldn't support Morrisey in the general election against Manchin. And he left the door open for a third-party run or supporting another third-party candidate.