Don Blankenship launches third-party Senate bid in West Virginia

Ex-convict and coal baron Don Blankenship says he’s running for the Senate in West Virginia as a third-party candidate after he lost in the Republican primary race two weeks ago.

In a statement Monday, Blankenship said he had accepted the Constitution Party’s nomination. And he again took aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — the man he’d called “Cocaine Mitch” while maligning McConnell’s “China family” — decrying “false ads against me by a Mitch McConnell controlled super PAC” that he said cost him the Republican nomination.

“This time we won’t get surprised by the lying establishment,” Blankenship said in a statement. “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.”

West Virginia has a “sore loser” law that prohibits candidates who lose primaries from running in general elections.

A source familiar with Blankenship’s plans said Blankenship will try run with a minor party affiliation and argue the sore loser law was poorly written.

In his statement, Blankenship alluded a likely legal battle, saying that “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.”

Blankenship lost the GOP primary to West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey. He finished third in the race, also placing behind Rep. Evan Jenkins. He has since complained that President Donald Trump’s White House political aides were inaccurately convinced he was a weak candidate against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.