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Trump slams West Virginia GOP Senate candidate Blankenship

08 May 2018, 01:38 | Lucy Hill

West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship. Steve Helber AP

Don Blankenship

Trump's opposition to Blankenship comes as West Virginia Republican insiders suggest that the recent spate of controversy surrounding the former coal mine owner has actually given him a bit of momentum heading into Tuesday's face-off against Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

The combative Blankenship - who spent a year in the slammer for violating mine safety regulations after a 2010 explosion at his mine killed 29 workers - responded to Trump's tweet by declaring that he's "Trumpier than Trump and this morning proves it".

Republicans, who control both houses of Congress as well as the White House, are looking to break with election history dictating that the party of the president typically loses seats in mid-term elections.

President Trump wrote,"To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference". McConnell, who has opposed Blankenship's Senate run, is married to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. They are also childishly calling me "despicable" and 'mentally ill.' The war to drain the swamp and create jobs for West Virginia people has begun.

Republican strategists feel that Mr. Manchin supplies them of the best chances to reclaim a Democratic seat, but this the conservative Democrat and former governor will easily acquire re election if Mr. Blankenship could be the nominee.

Just a day before West Virginia's primary election, President Donald Trump has weighed in on the GOP Primary. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsGOP takes gloves off against Blankenship in West Virginia Morrisey: Blankenship "would get crushed" in November Mueller emerges as villain in Republican campaigns MORE came in second, with 28 percent, and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in third, with 27 percent.

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The final line was a reference to the Alabama Senate seat Republicans lost after Judge Roy Moore was nominated.

All three leading candidates in the GOP primary have tried to attach themselves to Trump by emphasizing their commitment to his agenda.

Blankenship fired back in a statement to NBC's Ali Vitali. Trump won the district by nearly 50 points in 2016, but the districts ancestrally blue roots and historic support for Manchin may create a competitive race in November.

But the President's son does not share that sentiment and unleashed a series of tweets on Thursday urging West Virginia Republicans to vote against Blankenship. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in a series of political ads, one of which trashed the Senate majority leader for creating jobs for his "China people".

In the three-way West Virginia primary, some Republicans are concerned that a victory by Blankenship would mean a winnable seat becomes almost impossible to defend, repeating the results in Alabama. Each claimed to have the support of the president, even though Mr. Trump made it explicit that he has no preference between the two. No more fumbles like Alabama.

Both McCready and Manning have out-fundraised their opponents, Pittenger and GOP Rep. Ted Budd, a sign that the party could have a realistic shot with voters in a suburban district President Trump won in 2016, but may have fallen out of favor within the first year and a half of his administration.



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