In what Trump fears will be a repeat of Alabama, the West Virginia Republican candidate who may be most likely to win the primary is the least likely to beat the Democrat.
The problem with the West Virginia Republican primary is that self government is supposed to allow people to vote for the candidate of their choice. But the way it works is that a candidate who wins a majority of the base among several Republican candidates then loses the general election in which there are only two candidates.
Despite what’s at stake, the GOP must not be perceived as controlling local elections for the sake of a grand strategy. That kind of corruption is the DNC’s province.
The Hill reports, “GOP nightmare looms in West Virginia.”
The nightmare scenario for Republicans is upon them: Former coal CEO Don Blankenship — who was in prison a year ago — is the candidate with momentum in Tuesday’s GOP primary to take on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Two internal polls show Blankenship narrowly ahead of Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) and Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), and Republicans are spooked.
President Trump on Monday morning pleaded with West Virginia voters to back either of Blankenship’s opponents, reflecting the widespread belief in the GOP that Blankenship will lose to Manchin in November despite Trump’s popularity in the state.
“No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!” Trump tweeted in a message that recalled the GOP disaster in December that saw Democrat Doug Jones elected to the Senate over a flawed GOP nominee, conservative Roy Moore.
Blankenship got negative headlines for saying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seeking to create jobs for “China people” and calling the venerable GOP leader “Cocaine Mitch.”
If he wins on Tuesday, Democrats will have plenty to use against him. The former CEO of Massey Energy led the company during the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that left 29 people dead. Blankenship was released from prison on May 10, 2017, after his conviction for willfully violating mine safety and health standards.
“If he’s the nominee, Joe Manchin skates to reelection,” one GOP source said of Blankenship on Monday. “He’s the dream opponent.”
Blankenship is clearly being helped by the fact that he is running against both Morrisey and Jenkins, but Republicans hope Trump can make the difference in the campaign’s final 24 hours.
Senate GOP leaders have publicly kept their distance from the battle out of concern that any moves to influence the outcome would be viewed by primary voters as meddling and ultimately backfire.
But Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, told reporters after a closed-door leadership meeting that they’ve started discussing “the various scenarios.”
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