Don Blankenship Gets Mineshafted
Don Blankenship at a -- get this -- Labor Day event.
Four states held primary elections yesterday, and there definitely appears to be a clear trend of some people winning and other people losing, with implications for the fall's general elections. It is also believed there will be weather of some sort.
In one of the most closely watched races, the West Virginia Republican primary for US Senate was nowhere near as close as pre-election hype had suggested. Don Blankenship, the murdery coal CEO who ran some insane ads claiming Mitch McConnell was a coke fiend in cahoots with "Chinapeople," came in a distant third in the race behind state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey despite reports of internal polling from his opponents that showed him in the lead. Political scientist Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, has a tidy explanation of why Blankenship's actual performance fell so short of the fears that he might be the next Roy Moore:
Those WV 'polls' offered to the press from GOP sources last weekend were WAY OFF. Blankenship isn't even close to winning. Not to be conspiratorial, but I suspect this was a ploy from the R side to generate 'Blankenship could win!' stories AND produce Trump tweets. It worked!— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) May 9, 2018
Incumbent sort of Democrat Joe Manchin would probably have had a far easier fight against the buffoonish Blankenship, who spent a year in prison after his company's lax safety procedures resulted in a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners. Not exactly an attractive candidate in West Virginia. Instead, Manchin will face Morrisey, a far more conventional rightwinger whose greatest achievement in the campaign was running an ad promising to "blow up Washington" and featuring a big West Virginia mountain obliterating the US Capitol, which illustrated his pledge to finish the job the Flight 93 hijackers couldn't.
I'm running for U.S. Senate not to just change Washington, but to blow it up and reinvent it.— AG Patrick Morrisey (@MorriseyWV) April 5, 2018
Washington is fundamentally broken. We can fix that with a West Virginia conservative fighter! #wvsenpic.twitter.com/hogbOoYnms
OK, that, and the fact that he's a former lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry, which we imagine just might become an issue in the general election.
So bye-bye to Don Blankenship. While he made some noises about running as an independent, West Virginia's "sore loser" law would presumably prevent that. As an adieu, Mitch McConnell's super PAC ran this schadenfreudy tweet, which appears to show the Senate Majority Leader taking a powder himself:
Thanks for playing, @DonBlankenship. #WVSenpic.twitter.com/TV1ETgQdmu— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) May 9, 2018
Big doin's in the Indiana Republican primary for US Senate, where Mike Braun, a businessman and former state representative, spent $5 million of his own money and defeated Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, two sitting Republican congressmen who are now out on their butts. Despite being a rich bastard who was in the state lege until he ran for Senate, Braun successfully depicted himself as an outsider -- at least Washington outsider -- and the Trumpiest Trumper who ever Trumped. He also benefited from One Good Ad, which depicted Messer and Rokita as virtually indistinguishable cardboard cutouts:
Photoshop your opponents' heads onto identical cutouts, and you can clearly become a US Senator. Maybe: Now Braun is going to have to run against incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly, another red-state Democrat fighting to keep his seat in a state Donald Trump won by a large margin.
Also, Mike Pence's older brother Greg won the R primary for the 6th Congressional District formerly held by Luke Messner, and before that by his little brother Mike. Greg Pence has never run for office before this year, so hooray, another outsider.
In the Democratic primary for governor, Richard Cordray, the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, whomped former congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, former progressive darling who's become Trump-curious and a shill for Bashar al Assad. (NOT A GREAT LOOK, KUC.) Cordray will face Mike DeWine, the current state Attorney General. With loads of national Democratic support, Cordray may be the best hope Democrats have had of taking the Ohio governorship in years.
On the US Senate side, incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown will be going up against US Rep Jim Renacci, who won the R primary with less than 50 percent of the vote even though he had Donald Trump's endorsement and ran against relative unknowns. Renacci, after all, is a Washington Insider, and Republicans aren't voting for those this year.
Yet another win for a Washington outsider in the only primary to actually toss out an incumbent yesterday. IN NC's 9th Congressional District, US Rep Robert Pittenger was defeated by Mark Harris, a pastor who out-conservatived Pittenger in a rematch of their 2016 race. Harris is a real piece of work: In 2012, he was one of the leaders of the state's drive to preserve its constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, which was of course later overturned by the Supreme Court, but he's still sore about it. He also labeled Pittenger, a fairly typical North Carolina Republican, a "liberal." Vox notes that state Democrats are actually pretty optimistic about their chances of flipping the district this year, and are running "Dan McCready, a Marine Corps veteran and solar energy entrepreneur who has been compared to Pennsylvania’s Conor Lamb." That would be nice!
In other primary news, The New York Times points out it was a pretty good night for Democratic women, yay:
Nineteen open House Democratic primaries had at least one female candidate, and a woman won more than 80 percent of them.
Some of the seats are safely controlled by Republicans and will not be competitive this fall. But the success of candidates like Liz Watson in Indiana and Kathy Manning in North Carolina, and of female Democrats across the four states that voted on Tuesday, illustrates how much women are driving the opposition to President Trump.
There are more women who are Democratic House candidates this year than ever, and the first primaries of 2018, beginning with Texas and Illinois in March, have demonstrated that they are not just running — they are also winning nominations.
So there's a thing to feel good about! Also, we won't have to hear anything about Don Blankenship for a while, at least until Donald Trump appoints him to run OSHA.
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