Ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship Will Try for a Senate Seat in Coal Country

Just when you think the GOP has scraped the bottom of the barrel with political candidates — like, say, Roy Moore – they manage to surprise us again. Democrat Joe Manchin’s competitor in the race for one of West Virginia’s senate seats is none other than Don Blankenship.

If his name doesn’t ring a bell, that might be because Blankenship has spent the last nine months in jail. He’s the disgraced former CEO of Massey Energy, as in, the energy company responsible for a coal mining disaster that killed 29 people in 2010. The company had racked up over one thousand warnings about unsafe conditions prior to the incident.

West Virginia is coal country, so is it really a good move for a man who became the public figurehead of a horrific mining disaster to run for U.S. Senate? Astoundingly, on at least some campaign stops, Blankenship has found support.

Massey isn’t winning any Democratic hearts and even Republicans are giving him a frosty reception, but in an era of extreme partisan politics, Politico found that some voters were at least open to Massey’s candidacy.

Let’s be clear: The Republican primary in West Virginia is very crowded, with a number of politicians jockeying for position in the hopes of unseating Senator Joe Manchin. Manchin hasn’t been a crowd favorite, with some Democrats frustrated by what they perceive to be relatively centrist politics — but he’s representing a relatively conservative state.

West Virginia has deep economic, cultural, and social ties to coal, all factors that could influence decisions at the polls; Blankenship actually played a role in propagating the myth that the Obama administration was waging a “war on coal,” and that helped sway sentiments among voters.

Blankenship is even using the mining disaster to his advantage, as cold as that sounds. He’s positioning himself as an anti-establishment candidate who wants to take down corruption and wastefulness in Washington. He’s arguing that ”natural causes” and the meddling of agencies like the Mine Safety and Health Administration are at blame for the explosion. If he’s elected, Blakenship contends that West Virginia can cut through red tape and put an end to “interference” from the federal government.

Coming from a man who once referred to himself as a “political prisoner,” it’s clear that Massey is hoping to capture the hearts of voters who are dissatisfied with the federal government. And in West Virginia, where coal can be a complicated and emotional topic, his experience may work both for and against him — some may view Blakenship as someone with real-world knowledge of issues facing the energy, while others may see him as a key culprit in a series of bad decisions that endangered the lives of miners at the Big Branch mine.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins will be Blakenship’s main competition in the primary race, and we’ll likely be hearing from all three of them over the next few months in what will surely be a charged primary.

Photo credit: Takver

37 comments

Margie F
Margie F29 days ago

Okay

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Brian F
Brian F1 months ago

Debbie B Solar is much cleaner than dirty coal, and doesn't produce toxic coal ash. I agree solar leases are bad because they lock you into 20 year contracts, but solar has come down now to the point where you can buy your own solar power system. Solar and wind continue to fall in price, and dirty coal is on the way out. Please educate yourself about the harmful effects of dirty coal has on our environment, and the black lung disease it causes our miners.

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Winn A
Winn A1 months ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn A1 months ago

Petition Signed

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Debbie B
Past Member 1 months ago

@debbie w fox news is factual way over cnn did you know that cnn pays air ports or airports pay them to air their crap so fox news is right as in correct and it dosent show lies like when the las Vegas shooting happened they blew the number way out of proportion

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Debbie B
Past Member 1 months ago

@debbie w i dont deny black lung but your saying it comes from bull shit climate change when in reality it comes from people who worked in the coal mine its known as tuberculosis as well my great grand pa worked in the mines during the depression but i dont know if he had it or not and people dont dump bad chemical waste into rivers or if they do maybe you should drink that kool aid to better educate yourself or get smarter wouldnt hurt you and im saying coal is way way way better than the deplorable solar and electric car company soalr companies make you lease your panles which drains people away from there money so that chemicals you think they dump in streams rivers etc which they dont but once again drink that kool aid to become better educated and smarter

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O1 months ago

Interesting to see what follows...do any of them have a conscience?

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Julie B
Julie B1 months ago

Interesting and useful to know. As knowledge is true power :) Thank you

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Angela J
Angela J1 months ago

Thanks

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Debbi W
Debbi W1 months ago

Let's hope he get shot down. People like Blankenship and trump don't care how they look to others. They have their own agenda based on money. I do not want OUR tax dollars paying for their lifetime retirement program (even if it is about $16,500/yr), while so many hard working people don't have healthcare and can barely afford food or a place to live.

Blankenship is just another liar looking for a handout and playing on the coal miner's low education level. Disgusting.

Debbie B., have you ever been to a coal mining town? Around any coal miners? You really need to educate yourself. My grandfather was sent to work in a coal mine at the age of twelve. Other children started working in the mines at younger ages. Black lung is common among coal miner and their families. Oh yes, coal is clean and healthy. You also should do some research into the chemical cocktails industry used to dump into rivers before federal regulations controlled what they could safely release into rivers or spillways. Fox news is mostly fiction and they are playing trump and his humongous ego. Science is real, taught from grade school through universitys and college. If you have ever been to an industrial area of any city you would easily see the air pollution. The air is not normally shades of orange to brown.

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