They say even a broken clock is right twice a day, which is probably the only sensible reason that Donald Trump didn’t endorse Don Blankenship in his quest to win the Republican nomination in West Virginia’s upcoming Senate race.
Trump’s stated reason has more to do with his disastrous endorsement strategy in the Senate race in Alabama last year in the special election to replace Jeff Sessions who left his seat in Congress to become Trump’s much-belittled Attorney General.
The president initially endorsed mainstream Republican candidate Luther Strange, the state Attorney General who was appointed to fill the Senate seat until the election could be held. Strange, however, lost a bitter primary battle to the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, dealing a blow to Trump’s credibility as a key endorsement needed by Republicans to win elections.
With the stench of pedophilia draped on his shoulders, Moore managed to do what no Republican Senate candidate in Alabama had done in decades, lose to a Democrat.
With the control of the Senate in the balance for the 2018 midterm elections, Republicans don’t want to take any chances on fielding a defective candidate in the West Virginia race. However, their strategy was imperiled when former coal executive Don Blankenship decided to enter the contest.
Blankenship, you see, is the former CEO of the Massey Energy Company who was convicted of criminal charges of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety and health standards after the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster resulted in the deaths of 29 miners. He spent a year in prison for the offense.
Fearing another Roy Moore situation where a damaged candidate could lead to a Democratic victory, Republican leaders have denounced Blankenship and thrown their support behind the more mainstream candidates in the race.
President Trump joined them in urging Republicans in the state to vote against Blankenship in a tweet he sent earlier today.
To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
The ex-convict and energy company CEO did not take Trump’s thumb on the electoral scale lightly. Blankenship hit back at Trump in an interview he paid to have broadcast on WZTS-TV in West Virginia.
“We all really like President Trump’s policies, but we know he doesn’t get things right. He recommended people vote for a guy that was basically accused of pedophilia in Alabama, my accuser is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, it’s not anyone that I’ve damaged,” the candidate claimed.
“It’s really sad that the pressure on the president and the misinformation and the untruths he’s been given would cause him to suggest that you vote for two guys that have failed you, because I will not fail you if I get to D.C.,” he continued.
Bad grammar aside, Blankenship walks a fine line here. He’s trying to get Donald Trump supporters to vote for him, so he can’t slam the president too hard for his comments.
Still he acknowledges that Trump isn’t always right, something the president himself can’t manage to cop to, and questions his judgment in supporting a pedophile in the Alabama race.
Criticizing Trump is a risky gamble for Blankenship at this stage, with the primary election scheduled for tomorrow.
However, after a last minute ad campaign calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “Cocaine Mitch” — due to the drugs found in a shipment on a freighter owned by McConnell’s Chinese shipping magnate father-in-law — caused the the convicted criminally negligent candidate to surge in the polls, Blankenship must figure he has nothing to lose at this point by pointing out the president’s flaws while committing to his policies.
We’ll find out tomorrow whether his gamble will pay off.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.