In Boost to Morrisey, Blankenship Denied Place on Ballot in West Virginia Senate Race

Don Blankenship / Getty Images

Republican West Virginia Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey got a boost on Wednesday when the state supreme court said former primary challenger Don Blankenship couldn't appear on the ballot.

The court upheld Secretary of State Mac Warner's earlier blocking of Blankenship from getting on the ballot as the Constitution Party nominee. That leaves it a two-man race between Morrisey and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who Republicans hope to unseat as they try to maintain control of the chamber.

Blankenship would likely have siphoned votes from Morrisey, the state's attorney general who trails Manchin in the polls.

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Blankenship finished third in the Republican primary in May and then sought to get on the ballot with the Constitution Party, but he was blocked by Warner as part of West Virginia's "sore loser" law. The law seeks to stop those who lose major-party primaries from playing spoiler roles with third-party bids.

In response to the news, Morrisey's campaign said in a statement, "No more distractions to hide lying liberal Joe Manchin’s record of supporting pro-abortion policies, gun control, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign against coal miners."

President Donald Trump has endorsed Morrisey in his bid against Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate who has at times embraced the White House. Trump carried West Virginia by 42 points in 2016.

Blankenship shook up the Republican primary race when he referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) as "Cocaine Mitch" and said he had created jobs for "China people."

Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, and he spent a year in prison after being convicted of conspiring to violate state mine safety laws. A 2010 explosion at a mine he owned killed 29 people.