Fun times in West Virginia

The state of West Virginia has as its slogan ‘Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia’. Tomorrow will see a primary race for the US senate where the ‘wild’ part is clearly on display. The Republicans will choose a candidate to run against the Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin. One of the people vying is Don Blankenship, the CEO of a coal mine that collapsed in 2010 killing 29 workers. He was convicted for negligence and served a year in prison and was released last May. He now wears that as a badge of honor. No, really. He says that he was framed by (of course) Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Initially, the Republican party dismissed him as a fringe candidate but Blankenship has surged recently and, in a three way race, it was feared that he might squeak through to win and they would face a situation similar to what happened in Alabama with Roy Moore. So they belatedly launched attacks on him

Nationally, Republicans started to run anti-Blankenship ads in April. They did not just focus on the Upper Big Branch disaster. Instead, they attacked him for pumping “toxic coal slurry” underground while using a private system to give his own mansion clean water. The ads ended with a question: “Isn’t there enough toxic sludge in Washington?”

It is odd that national Republicans think that Blankenship poisoning the system for ordinary people while using his wealth to insulate himself would be seen as a negative. Isn’t that the entire Republican model, especially with Donald Trump? Trump has also entered the race, tweeting his support for the other two candidates.

“To the great people of West Virginia,” the president tweeted. “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!”

Blankenship’s commercials are things of beauty, attacking senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and his Taiwan-born wife Elaine Chao. McConnell had actually come to Blankenship’s rescue after Blankenship’s company had a disastrous spill in 2000, so he might well feel aggrieved at Blankenship’s betrayal, not that I care when thieves fall out. In this commercial, I love the two random children (blonde, of course) that he suddenly produces at the end as props and the humble home he stands in front of that is clearly not his mansion but carries the obligatory flag.

That he could almost win despite a goofy message delivered in such a wooden style says a lot about the Republican party base.

His reference to ‘Cocaine Mitch’ is an allusion to allegations that a shipping company run by the father of Chao transported drugs. Stephen Colbert deconstructs the ad.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Note that “humble home” appears freshly painted.
    I hope the two little girls are not too traumatized.

  2. ridana says

    And you may find yourself
    Living in a prison cell
    And you may find yourself
    In another part of the world
    And you may find yourself
    Behind the wheel of a primary campaign
    And you may find yourself outside a humble house
    And you may ask yourself, well
    How did I get here?

    Letting the regs go by, toxins flowing underground
    Draped in the flag again after the money’s gone
    Stealing lifetimes, slurry flowing underground
    And you will ask yourself
    How do I work this?
    And you may ask yourself
    Where is my Senate seat?
    And you may tell yourself
    This is not my beautiful house!
    And you may tell yourself
    These are not my beautiful children!

    Same as it ever was
    Same as it ever was

    And you may ask yourself
    Whose is that humble house?
    And you won’t ask yourself
    Am I right? Am I wrong?
    And you will never say to yourself, “My God! What have I done?”

    Same as it ever was
    (apologies to Talking Heads)

  3. chuckonpiggott says

    The ads are a trip. They play in the Washington DC market because that covers eastern WV. Really bad.

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