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Jailbird Coal CEO Don Blankenship Running For Senate Because Dead Miners Can't Vote
Don Blankenship at a -- get this -- Labor Day event.
Former coal baron Don Blankenship, who recently finished a federal prison sentence for his role in a 2010 mine explosion, filed Tuesday to run for the US Senate in West Virginia, because that's exactly the kind of year 2017 has been. Blankenship was the CEO of Massey Energy when the Upper Big Branch Mine blew up, killing 29 miners.
Despite multiple investigations finding that the Big Branch explosion was due to a buildup of coal dust that resulted from lax safety procedures, Blankenship continues to claim -- with no evidence -- that all the investigators were wrong, and, as you'd expect from a guy who gives robber barons a bad name, actually blames federal regulators for the mine disaster. Blankenship was sentenced in 2015 to a whole year in prison on a misdemeanor charge of conspiring to violate federal mine safety regulations. The jury found him not guilty on two felony charges (securities fraud and lying to federal investigators) that could have put him away for up to 30 years, but even that year in minimum security prompted Blankenship to declare himself a political prisoner. You see, he was such a terrific, powerful spokesman for Big Coal that Barack Obama had to silence him by sending him to the Gulag.
And now he wants to run for Senate to clear his name, because with The A Team cancelled, isn't that what the US Senate is all about? In a deranged November 20 blog post, Blankenship once again airs his grievances about the vast conspiracy against him, and speculates that maybe the Senate is exactly where he needs to be to help make coal great again, because Don Blankenship is the only one who really cares about mine safety:
We have not decided our next and best approach to continuing our campaign for the truth, for the memory of the fallen miners and for the safety and sake of todays working miners. I am still considering whether running for U.S. Senator Joe Manchin's seat would benefit our truth campaign. Some things are certain. If I were a United States Senator coal miners would be safer, I would not declare people guilty before a trial, I would not say that those accused of a crime do not deserve a fair trial, I would not favor treating Americans more harshly when they exercise their right to free speech, and I would criticize government agencies when they have caused deaths of miners.
See? He cares! Also, he should definitely use the name of his blog on his campaign signs: "Don Blankenship: American Competitionist." Maybe with a subtitle: "It is so a word."
Of course, Blankenship won't have an easy path to the Senate, not merely because there's a nationwide conspiracy to keep him down, but also because there are other Republican candidates in the primary, US Rep. Evan Jenkins and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Blankenship may have to explain to West Virginians why he's preferred to live in Las Vegas instead of West Virginia since getting out of prison, though he's kept a home in coal country and will undoubtedly go back for as long as it takes to run. Morrisey's only reaction to Blankenship joining the race was to tout his own super-conservative qualifications in a statement:
Everyone has a right to run for public office [...] I welcome anyone into this contest, but I will continue to run on my positive record of obtaining conservative results for coal miners and West Virginia taxpayers, fighting for the unborn, protecting gun rights, and ridding the state of this terrible opioid epidemic.
Now there's a man who knows how to dodge a question. Rep. Jenkins, who was elected to Congress in 2014 and has managed to remain something of a nonentity, also used the "every citizen has the right to run" line and then talked about what a brilliant senator he would be. And a statement from Joe Manchin went them one better, explaining he doesn't even think about 2018, heavens no:
Joe Manchin is focused on working in the Senate for West Virginia families, not campaign politics. He won’t be distracted by Mitch McConnell’s backroom deals in Washington, D.C.
Despite his lonely years being Coal's Best Friend, Blankenship will still have to overcome the fact that lots of West Virginians know exactly who he is and what happened at the Upper Big Branch Mine, so he may need a boost of some sort to make him stand out and win rightwing votes. Perhaps he could float some stories about having tried to date rape some underage girls.