A Super PAC with ties to the GOP establishment is trying to sink a GOP candidate in a Republican primary – again.
But Don Blankenship, the target of $743,858 in attack ads paid for by the Republican leadership-linked Mountain Families PAC, insists he’s nothing like Judge Roy Moore, who endured similar resistance from his own party in Alabama’s special election last year.
“My accuser was Obama – and Hillary,” said Blankenship, a former coal baron who recently served a year in prison on a misdemeanor charge on conspiracy to skirt mine safety laws, following a disaster at his former company’s Upper Big Branch mine, which killed 29 miners. “[Moore's] accuser was women, and girls, as I understand. That’s quite a bit of difference.”
A Democratic group, Duty and Country PAC, is leaving Blankenship alone, instead trying to damage two other Republicans atop the primary polls – Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., and the state’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey.
“It’s when the Democrats are trying to beat you in a primary – that ought to tell you something,” Jenkins said Monday at a candidate forum on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University.
An overwhelming percentage of Duty and Country PAC’s spending has targeted Jenkins, with a total approaching $700,000. More than $40,000 has been used to attack Morrisey.
“I think people know that I’ the best positioned to take out Joe Manchin,” Morrisey said. “I know they’ve been hitting a couple different people, but the reality is, I have the best match-up because I’m the clear conservative in this race.”
Zero dollars in the Democratic-linked Duty and Country’s PAC money has been spent opposing Blankenship.
“I guess most people assume it’s because they think they can beat me,” Blankenship said. “But they thought that when they put me on trial, they’ve thought it, I guess, for 33 years. They haven’t beat me yet.”
These financial disclosures indicate Republican kingmakers in D.C. are spending big to avoid seeing Blankenship on the midterm ballot, while Democratic operatives are spending big to beef up Blankenship’s chances of becoming the challenger to incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
And the flow of cash from D.C. into West Virginia isn’t expected to slow down anytime in the final two weeks before the May 8 primary, because the Fox News poll of likely GOP primary voters finds that 24 percent are undecided, and 41 percent may change their minds.