Ex-CEO Fails to Win Senate Seat as Republican, Tries as Democrat

The disgraced former West Virginia coal executive, who failed in his 2018 Republican run for the US Senate, recently announced that he was running to replace outgoing Senator Joe Manchin, this time running as a Democrat.

Don Blankenship, who also launched a failed third-party run for president in 2020, will face off against Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott and former Marine Zach Shrewsbury in the May 14 West Virginia Democrat primary.

Perennial candidate Blankenship is best known in the state as the former CEO of Massey Energy who was sent to prison for violating safety standards at the Upper Big Branch mine where an explosion in 2010 killed 29 miners.

A Blankenship win in the May 14 primary would be problematic for the Democrats who hold only a 1-seat majority in the Senate. The West Virginia Senate race is already ranked as a Republican-leaning seat in 2024 and a Blankenship nomination would leave the party with a deeply unpopular candidate with a checkered past in a state Donald Trump won by over 38 points in 2020.

While it is unlikely Blankenship will prevail, West Virginia Democrats are taking steps to ensure that he doesn’t.

Last Monday, Senator Manchin threw his support behind Glenn Elliott whom he described as someone with the “determination,” “vigor,” and “vitality” to do what was necessary in the US Senate.

Manchin said Elliott would “fight for West Virginia” and put the country ahead of “the bickering and pettiness” of Washington’s “partisan politics.”

West Virginia Democrat Party Chair Mike Pushkin, who often refers to Blankenship as “Federal Prisoner 12393-088,” said the disgraced coal executive was not a true Democrat.

United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts also dismissed Blackenship’s Democrat creds, saying if Blankenship was a Democrat, “then I’m Batman.” He described Blankenship’s entry into the Democrat primary as “the most fraudulent and cynical move” he’d ever seen.

Republican Governor Jim Justice and West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney will face off in the state’s Republican Senate primary.