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GOP senator: It’s not that Blankenship 'can’t win,' it’s that he 'shouldn’t win'

The Hill logo The Hill 5/7/2018 Aris Folley
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Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) came out Monday against West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship, saying the former coal CEO and ex-convict shouldn't win the general election against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Flake's remarks come a day before West Virginia Republicans cast primary ballots to decide on their party's nominee to face Manchin. Republicans in Washington, including President Trump, have slammed Blankenship as a bad pick who would lose a general election fight against Manchin.

"The problem isn't that Don Blankenship can't win a general election in West Virginia, it's that he shouldn't win a general election in West Virginia," Flake wrote on Twitter.

Blankenship will face off Tuesday against Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Republicans in Washington have urged Republican primary voters to support Jenkins or Morrisey instead of Blankenship.

Flake's tweet followed a Trump tweet on Monday that told GOP voters in the state to oppose Blankenship because he "can't win the General Election."

Trump compared Blankenship's chances in the West Virginia race to last year's Alabama Senate election, in which GOP candidate Roy Moore narrowly lost what should have been a safe seat for Republicans after allegations that he molested underage girls decades earlier.

Blankenship, a former coal CEO who spent time in prison after a fatal mine explopsionfor violating mining safety regulations, has drawn criticism for his campaign ads attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his family.

In one, he called McConnell "cocaine Mitch," and in another he referred to McConnell's "China family" - a reference to McConnell's Chinese-American wife, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

"Swamp captain Mitch McConnell has created millions of jobs for China people. While doing so Mitch has gotten rich. In fact, his China family has given him tens of millions of dollars," Blankenship said in the ad.

McConnell and other top Republicans have also opposed Blankenship's campaign.

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