GOP Candidate Compares McConnell to the Russians

“A brewing fight between West Virginia GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship and national Republicans spilled into the open Monday when the coal baron compared Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell to Russians interfering in his state’s election,” Politico reports.

Said Blankenship” “McConnell should not be in the U.S. Senate, let alone be the Republican Majority Leader. He is a Swamp captain.”

He added: “The Russians and McConnell should both stop interfering with elections outside their jurisdictions. West Virginians are aware that McConnell cannot vote in their election. They want him to mind his own business and do his job. A job he has not done now for over 30 years. Balance the budget Mitch and stay out of West Virginia.”

GOP Launches Secret Group to Attack Blankenship

“The Republican establishment has launched an emergency intervention in the West Virginia Senate primary aimed at stopping recently imprisoned coal baron Don Blankenship from winning the party’s nomination,” Politico reports.

“Late last week, a newly-formed super PAC generically dubbed the ‘Mountain Families PAC’ began airing TV ads targeting Blankenship, who spent one year behind bars following a deadly 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine. The national party isn’t promoting its role in the group but its fingerprints are all over it.”

Bruising GOP Primary Fights Worry Party Leaders

“In many parts of the country, Republican candidates are trying to put distance between themselves and President Trump. In the Indiana Senate primary, the bruising fight is over which candidate is the more authentically Trumpian,” the New York Times reports.

“As the May 8 primary election approaches, the race here has taken a nasty turn, with candidates attacking one another as insufficiently aligned with the president, or way too late to Team Trump. Some Republicans worry that the tenor has the potential to bloody the winner so badly that he will be weakened in the general election contest against Sen. Joe Donnelly, one of this election year’s most vulnerable Democrats.”

“The Indiana primary is among several, including those in West Virginia and Wisconsin, where Republicans are locked in nominating battles in states Mr. Trump won in 2016 and where the party has hoped to add to its slender two-seat majority.”

GOP Fears Another Candidate Problem In West Virginia

“National Republicans — on the heels of the Roy Moore and Rick Saccone debacles — worry they’re staring down their latest potential midterm election fiasco: coal baron and recent federal prisoner Don Blankenship,” Politico reports.

“With Blankenship skyrocketing in the West Virginia Republican Senate primary and blanketing the airwaves with ads assailing his fractured field of rivals as career politicians, senior party officials are wrestling with how, or even whether, to intervene. Many of them are convinced that Blankenship, who served a one-year sentence after the deadly 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine, would be a surefire loser against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin — and potentially become a national stain for the party.”

Manchin Says He’ll Run Again

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told colleagues “that he intended to run for re-election this year after all, ending an anxiety-making flirtation with retirement and easing Democratic fears that the most conservative Democrat in the Senate was about to effectively hand his seat to a Republican,” the New York Times reports.

Said Manchin: “I’ve said this point blank: If people like me can’t win from red states, you’ll be in the minority the rest of your life.”

Justice Won’t Support GOP Senate Nominee

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R), who switched parties to become a Republican in early August, told a crowd of Republican lawmakers this week that he supports Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) re-election to the U.S. Senate, according to West Virginia Metro News.

Said Justice: “Joe Manchin has been a friend of mine. Now he may be a terrible person to y’all but Joe has been a friend of mine and I’m going to tell you this as straight up as I can be: Joe Manchin is becoming a very key, integral part with Donald Trump. And I’m going to take my read off of Donald Trump.”

Manchin Says He’s Not Scared of the Election

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told the Charleston Gazette that getting re-elected doesn’t influence his votes.

Said Manchin: “I don’t give a shit, you understand? I just don’t give a shit. Don’t care if I get elected, don’t care if I get defeated, how about that. If they think because I’m up for election, that I can be wrangled into voting for shit that I don’t like and can’t explain, they’re all crazy.”

He added: “I’m not scared of an election, let’s put it that way. Elections do not bother me or scare me.”

GOP Seeks to Block Manchin from Picking Successor

As Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) “considers a 2016 return bid for governor, Republicans hope to block West Virginia’s most prominent Democrat from handpicking his Senate successor for two years,” the AP reports.

“Should he reclaim his old job, Manchin will have served enough of his Senate term that the governor — potentially him in 2017 — could name the next senator through 2018.”

McConnell Expected to Woo King and Manchin

Two Senate sources tell The Hill that they expect Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to reach out to Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) about joining the Senate Republican conference.

“Republicans have a 52-seat Senate majority and that could swell to 54 seats depending on the final vote tally in Alaska and a runoff in Louisiana next month. Both are solidly red states.”