Blankenship to file paperwork to run in Senate race

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Former coal executive Don Blankenship says he intends to file paperwork to run in the West Virginia's U.S. Senate race as the Constitution Party's nominee.

Archival image of Don Blankenship during his trial in April 2016

Blankenship's campaign announced he would file the paperwork Tuesday, but doesn't expect it to be certified and will "vigorously challenge" any denial.

It's unclear if the bid violates West Virginia's "sore loser" law, which prohibits candidates affiliated with a major party who lose in a primary from changing their registration to a minor party.

Blankenship finished a distant third in the Republican primary. He wants to join Republican Patrick Morrisey and incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on the November ballot.

Blankenship is a former CEO of Massey Energy, which owned a mine where a 2010 explosion killed 29 miners. He spent a year in federal prison for violating safety regulations.

Here is Blankenship's statement about his plan from last week:

"Our plan is for me to file my candidacy for West Virginia United States Senator next week. In advance of my filing, the Constitution Party of West Virginia sent the attached letter to the West Virginia Secretary of State yesterday.

The politicians are naturally hopeful of keeping me off the ballot because they want to maintain control of the political process. The Democratic and Republican Parties believe they can do just that. They believe that they can decide who is and who is not on the election ballot this fall. They seemingly fail to understand that someone seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and not winning it is no different than someone seeking the National Rifle Association or Right to Life endorsement and not getting it. Neither has any bearing on an American’s right to run for a public office.

The Constitutions of West Virginia and of the United States do not grant politicians or political parties any right to provide some American citizens an advantage in running for public office. Nor does either Constitution grant the politicians any right to cause other American citizens to have a lesser opportunity to run for and win public office. In this upcoming fall election, the politician’s position is even more ludicrous. As you will see in the attached Constitution Party letter, the politicians are in fact allowing some so-called “sore losers” to run as members of certain political parties this fall. Yet they intend to argue that I cannot either as an Independent or a member of the Constitution Party.

If it is not insane enough that the politicians are taking the position that all of us do not have the same equal individual rights if we are not members of certain political parties, then consider this. They even passed a law that became effective, “after” the May primary election, that purports to keep me as a “sore loser” off the ballot even if every citizen of West Virginia were to sign a petition saying they want me on the ballot. Unless, believe it or not, I were to run as a member of the political parties that the politicians declare to be “major parties” like the Democrat or Republican Party.

Again politicians are so full of themselves that they lose sight of the fact that seeking their political party’s endorsement or nomination and not getting it does not constitute an act that takes away an American’s equal right to seek election to a public office.

Once I am on the ballot, the people of West Virginia will have an opportunity to help me end the erosion of their Constitutional rights. As the individual who played the single greatest individual role in re-establishing a two party system in West Virginia, I will work hard to be sure neither of those two parties behave like a Communist Party. "