In the West Virginia Senate Republican primary, the candidacy of coal mine owner Don Blankenship is terrifying the Republican establishment. Since he recently served time in prison for mine safety violations that contributed to a deadly explosion, party leaders suspect he's not the best choice to face incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin. In turn, a super PAC founded by GOP operatives close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have been running ads attacking Blankenship as a "convicted criminal."
Don Blankenship Pledges To Get Rid of "Cocaine Mitch"Now Blankenship is escalating the intra-party battle considerably.
In a low-budget TV ad, with the candidate speaking laconically to the camera, Blankenship accuses unnamed "politicians" for the tragedy that killed 29 people at his mine: "The politicians are running a lot of crazy ads. They blew up the coal mine, and then put me in prison. Now they're running ads that say the coal mine blew up and I went to prison."
Then after ticking off his priorities of "jobs," fighting the "drug epidemic" and protecting "the unborn," Blankenship casually drops this doozy: "One of my goals as U.S. Senator will be to ditch Cocaine Mitch." (He follows that with the incongruous closing line, "When you vote me, you're voting for the sake of the kids.")
Blankenship Cites Left-Wing Source To Attack McConnellThe ad doesn't explain what he means by "Cocaine Mitch," but a separate statement from the campaign reads: "His father-in-law who founded and owns a large Chinese shipping company has given Mitch and his wife millions of dollars over the years. The company was implicated recently in smuggling cocaine from Colombia to Europe..." The statement points to a 2014 article from the left-wing magazine The Nation describing when one of the company's ships was found hiding 90 pounds of cocaine.
Weeks earlier, Blankenship criticized McConnell's father-in-law in race-baiting terms: "I have an issue when the father-in-law is a wealthy Chinaperson and there's a lot of connections to some of the brass." McConnell refused to comment on the ad, but a former McConnell aide previously tweeted in response to the "Chinaperson" comment, "This candidate is as contemptible a human being as you will find."