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Government & Politics

Morrisey Beats Blankenship to Win W.Va. GOP Senate Primary

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Patrick Morrisey Campaign
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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, beating out five other candidates, including front-runners former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and Congressman Evan Jenkins. 

The race drew national attention as Republicans take aim at the seat held by Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin
 
Shortly after being called as the winner, Morrisey pivoted and turned his attention toward Manchin, whose race against progressive newcomer Paula Jean Swerengin was called early Tuesday evening.

Morrisey: “I think the West Virginia people are ready for a change. Washington has utterly failed us, and I think Joe Manchin’s been part of the problem, and so we’re gonna work to bring everyone together; I think that’s gonna happen quickly, and we’re gonna make sure that we’re laying out the real, different policy issues. This is not a personal, negativity contest, but there are serious policy issues. When you choose Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood, and you abandon your Second Amendment Rights? That’s not what West Virginia values are all about.”

As for Blankenship, he was largely ignored by his opponents throughout the race, until Morrisey questioned

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Credit Don Blankenship, Facebook
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 whether the former coal baron had violated the terms of his supervised release. He served a year in prison for conspiring to violate mine safety standards in the wake of the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which killed 29 men.

Speaking to reporters at his election night headquarters in Kearneysville, Morrisey tried to reach out to those who supported Blankenship.

Morrisey: “Look, I wanna unite the whole Republican party, and I will tell you this -- I think that all the Don Blankenship supporters out there should rally behind my candidacy, because I know that they care a lot about draining the swamp. They know that Washington has failed us. I’m reaching out to those supporters and everyone else tonight, because we want to have a united front.”

But, Morrisey’s comments on Blankenship and his supporters did not sit well with Blankenship. In a concession speech, he took aim at Morrisey and what he sees as the wrong direction for the GOP.

Blankenship: “It concerns me. You know, the Republican Party has to be careful about being hijacked by candidates that don't represent the moral values of what we hope the Republican Party is.”

During the campaign, Blankenship called Senate Leader McConnell ‘Cocaine Mitch’ in ads that included racially charged language attacking McConnell’s wife’s family. He downplayed that tactic as a reason for his loss.

Blankenship: “I know I'm being asked of course whether some of the things we did cocaine image or whether it's some of the criticisms of Mitch McConnell or others ‘China people’ that made the difference. I really don't think so. I think if there was any single factor based on holding him different times and the things I saw it was more like the President Trumps. I don't know what to call it don't vote for Tom tweed. I can't I can't justify it with any analysis or any actual numbers.”

Blankenship also maintained his innocence in the Upper Big Branch case and said he remains confident that his misdemeanor conviction would be vacated. He rattled off what he called concerns related to his prosecution.

Blankenship: “I can tell you that with the experiences I've had, all of you need to be concerned with the federal government going into a courtroom and saying that free speech should be limited because you are free speech both troubles the United States that's a concern that you take all your guns and keep them for three years while you're your misdemeanor probation should get concerned when the prosecution can both lie and misrepresent the truth and destroy documents and then admit to it and testify to and nothing happens you should be concerned. And certainly I'm concerned but I don't know what more I can.”

Coming in second at the polls, Jenkins congratulated Morrisey in a speech in Barboursville.

Morrisey now will square off against Manchin in November.

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