This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 22, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, we're told the state says he can't do it, but he is.
West Virginia businessman Don Blankenship is launching a third-party candidacy for the West Virginia Senate seat, despite coming in third in that Republican primary.
He joins us right now to explain why.
Mr. Blankenship, very good to have you.
Why you doing this?
DON BLANKENSHIP, R, WEST VIRGINIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, because I think I will make a better senator than either of the other two candidates, and I think I can win.
CAVUTO: All right.
So, when you hear candidate who did when, the state attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, say that you could cost Republicans this potential Senate seat pickup, you say what?
BLANKENSHIP: Well, I say, number one, that when I was running in the primary, they said I was running solely for -- to be vengeful against Senator Mansion, and now they're saying that I`m running to cause Senator Manchin to win, neither of which are true.
I`m running to win.
CAVUTO: All right, but you must know that you have better odds of taking votes away from the Republican candidate than the Democratic incumbent, right?
BLANKENSHIP: I'm not 100 percent sure that, because the Democrats are very fed up with Senator Manchin. And there are a lot of Democrats that are in southern West Virginia in the mining fields, where I'm very well-known and very well-respected.
CAVUTO: So, having placed third, do you think in that race that you could really have much of an impact in this one, even if you were allowed to run as a third-party candidate?
BLANKENSHIP: Well, I'm pretty comfortable I'm going to be allowed to run. I think the law is very clear on that, and 100 percent chance, if it's decided based on the law.
CAVUTO: They say the law is not that clear on that, because there is a sore loser feature, and that you would be deemed a sore loser.
You say that's wrong?
BLANKENSHIP: My attorneys tell me that is wrong, so I guess we will find out.
But based on the law, I'm confident that we will be on the ballot. And if we are, I think we have got an excellent chance of winning both against Morrisey and Manchin, because of their flawed past.
CAVUTO: Has Mr. Morrisey, the attorney general, reached out to you or he after the primary?
BLANKENSHIP: No, I have not talked to him.
Last time I talked to him was, I think, after the debate on Fox. But I'm not 100 percent sure. I may have spoken to him one more time after that.
CAVUTO: Have you spoken to Senator Manchin?
BLANKENSHIP: No, I haven't spoken to Senator Manchin probably in seven or eight years.
Senator Manchin was -- if you recall, came out and said I had blood on my hands after the explosion. And, of course, it's of great interest of me to hear all this talk about the Department of Justice and being so corrupt and all these issues that it had.
And it was the Department of Justice that indicted me on three felonies, but couldn't convict me on any. And it's very disappointing that the news media and this network as well continues to tell people I'm a felon, which I have never been convicted of a felon.
I`m probably less likely to be a felon than anyone, given that I was investigated for four-and-a-half years, and they couldn't find anything.
CAVUTO: So, what are you if you have served time in jail?
BLANKENSHIP: A misdemeanor, the only misdemeanor to serve time at a felon prison in California.
So, I think that should tell us something as well. When they're sending misdemeanors to prison, so they can't communicate for a year, is pretty telling.
CAVUTO: There are those who would disagree with that portrayal, sir, saying that it's a little bit bigger than a misdemeanor when 29 people are killed in a mining accident in 2010, for which you or your company, more to the point, was held accountable for violating safety standards and the rest.
You don't agree with that. And, obviously, you felt that way afterwards. But that would be a little more than a misdemeanor, right?
BLANKENSHIP: Well, if you stretch it that far.
The government blew up the coal mines. So, it's natural that the government wanted to cover what really happened. And the media has helped them a great deal in that regard.
CAVUTO: Did you violate safety standards at your company? Wasn't that the thrust of it, that you violated safety standards, and that's what prompted all of this and you to go to jail?
BLANKENSHIP: No, I have never violated a safety standard myself.
Coal companies have lots of violations. But this mine was pretty much average. It had less than one violation per inspector a day over two-and- a-half years.
But both the media and the government made it out that it was some extraordinary number. It was actually 20 percent less than the mine next door and 20 percent more after I left the company.
So, it`s an easy story for the media and the government to tell, but it`s untrue.
CAVUTO: Mr. Blankenship, I`m just wondering now, if you pursue this, obviously, you would raise concerns among Senate Republicans, who think this is a potential pickup for them, including Mitch McConnell, who had hoped that you would lose, and he had his wish.
I think he sent you a pretty snarky reminder after that. Is this as much to go after Mitch McConnell?
BLANKENSHIP: No. It`s to go after the establishment. They`re bankrupting the country. They`re keeping people in poverty. They`re destroying jobs.
CAVUTO: Who? Who is the establishment? Who is the establishment?
BLANKENSHIP: Well, it`s both the Republicans and the Democrats.
You know, you have got a situation where they basically are more interested in their individual parties and their individual authority than they are in the country. And somebody needs to stand up against it.
And since I have been so abused by the government, to the extent of being falsely charged, falsely tried, and then sent to prison as a misdemeanor, I figure I'm the guy that is very motivated to stand up against this nonsense.
CAVUTO: But a couple weeks ago, you were the establishment. Right? You were running for the Republican nomination, right?
BLANKENSHIP: I`m sorry?
CAVUTO: A couple of weeks ago, you were the establishment. You were running for the Republican nomination.
Now it just seems that, after failing to get it, placing third, you're bitter and you're angry, and now you`re not establishment, and you`re running apart from those parties, right?
BLANKENSHIP: Well, again, you can say that, but that's not true.
I ran on the platform of not voting for Mitch McConnell and on the platform of balancing the budget and on the platform of stopping the efforts to police the world, which West Virginians believe in.
So, again, Fox News...
CAVUTO: But didn't West Virginians vote accordingly? But didn`t West Virginians vote accordingly, and say, whatever the merits of your arguments, sir, you were not their cup of tea? They opted for someone else. You were third.
BLANKENSHIP: Well, they didn`t run on the facts.
They ran on what Fox News and others were saying, that I was a felon, including President Trump's son.
CAVUTO: Well, that was hardly a mystery within the state.
I'm just saying that -- just to be clear, are you saying that West Virginia residents and voters were duped? The ones who opted for two other candidates over you were duped?
BLANKENSHIP: Yes, I'm saying that they were misled by everything from the president's son, to six or seven Republican senators, to the Department of Justice, and a whole host of other people, because everyone joined in to this lie about my having something to do with the explosion.
I was never even tried for anything to do with the explosion, and that President Obama claimed that he knew what happened at the coal mine before anybody ever went underground.
CAVUTO: I'm sorry, sir.
Would you do -- if the state said, no, you can`t do this, we have this law in effect -- your lawyers seem to be telling you, no, you can get on the ballot anyway.
As a write-in? Is that the last -- the last strategy you could use, as a write-in candidate?
BLANKENSHIP: Well, I could, but I`m not going to have to.
The law -- I mean, they actually wrote another law just a couple of months ago that takes effect in June trying to clarify their sore loser law. So, they obviously weren`t comfortable with the sore loser law that would apply to my nomination.
CAVUTO: So you don't call yourself a sore loser? You're not a sore, bitter loser?
I'm a little bit bitter at the fact that people continue to report that I'm a felon and continue to claim something that is obviously false.
I think that, you know, everything from Laura Ingle to Judge Napolitano need to stop that, because they know I'm not a felon. And that means that they don't believe in the justice system. If we don't believe in the justice system, then they shouldn`t...
CAVUTO: All right, we can go round and round on this, sir.
I just want to be -- I understand. We can go round and round on this.
Bottom line is, you are hell-bent on getting on that ballot one way or the other, even though the state says you can't?
BLANKENSHIP: Well, the state hasn't said we can't. No, the state hasn't decided that yet.
When we finally file the papers to be on the ballot, they will decide that.
CAVUTO: Well, the chairman of the Republican Party, the chairman of the Democratic Party says you can't.
But that could change.
Thank you very much. We will watch very, very closely.
BLANKENSHIP: Well, they -- thank you. I appreciate it.
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