Corrected | West Virginia GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship suggested that establishment Republicans are “misinforming” President Donald Trump and telling him to oppose his campaign “because they do not want me to be in the U.S. Senate and promote the president’s agenda,” the businessman wrote Monday morning on Facebook.
In a tweet earlier Monday, Trump urged Republicans in West Virginia not to make Blankenship the party’s nominee for Senate at the primary Tuesday.
Trump tweeted that Republicans have a chance to pick up a crucial seat and urged voters to pick either state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey or Rep. Evan Jenkins to run against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November.
“Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State,” the President said. “No way!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
5 Things to Watch in Tuesday’s Congressional Primaries
Trump also said “Remember Alabama,” referring to Democrat Doug Jones’ stunning win in the Senate race in that state in December over Republican Roy Moore, who was dogged by allegations of improper relations with underage girls.
Trump defended Moore against those allegations during the special election campaign but said the day after the election that he had endorsed interim Sen. Luther Strange in the primary because he knew Moore couldn’t win.
In his response to the president’s tweet, Blankenship repeated the line that he is “Trumpier than Trump.”
“The President is a very busy man and he doesn’t know me, and he doesn’t know how flawed my two main opponents are in this primary,” Blankenship wrote.
“West Virginia voters should remember that my enemies are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and my opponents would not even be running as Republicans had I not resurrected the Republican Party in West Virginia,” he wrote.
Jenkins left the Democratic party and joined the GOP in 2013.
Last week, Trump’s eldest son Don Jr. tweeted that West Virginia should oppose Blankenship.
“No more fumbles like Alabama,” he said.
I hate to lose. So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and ask the people of West Virginia to make a wise decision and reject Blankenship!
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 3, 2018
Blankenship was criticized after he released an ad calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “Cocaine Mitch” and McConnell’s in-laws his “China family.”
McConnell is married to Trump’s Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1961 and are both U.S. citizens.
Blankenship insisted the ad was not racist, saying “races are negro, white caucasian, Hispanic, Asian.”
Blankenship was convicted of conspiring to willfully violate federal mine safety standards after 29 miners were killed in the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster. This charge is a misdemeanor.
This report was corrected to state that Blankenship was convicted of a misdemeanor.
— Griffin Connolly contributed to this report.