Former coal executive and Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship has a new political ad where he hopes to to get rid of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — for whom he coined a new nickname.
“One of my goals is to ditch cocaine Mitch,” Blankenship said in the 30-second spot.
It’s unclear where the nickname comes from, but the liberal publication The Nation reported in 2014 that 90 pounds of cocaine were seized from a freighter owned by the family of McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who is now the Secretary of Transportation.
In a monotone voice, Blankenship addressed his history as the CEO of Massey Energy during the worst mine explosion in recent years. The 2010 blast killed 29 people, and sent the CEO to prison for ignoring safety rules.
“The politicians are running a lot of crazy ads,” Blankenship said in a deadpan voice. “They blew up the coal mine, and then sent me to prison. Now they’re running ads saying the coal mine blew up, and I went to prison. There’s no surprise there.”
Blankenship made his pitch for the nomination to the U.S. Senate, just a week before the Republican primary May 8, saying that he is the right candidate “if you want jobs, if you want to end the drug epidemic, and you want to protect the unborn.”
“When you vote for me, you’re voting for the sake of the kids,” Blankenship said.
This is far from the first time Blankenship has attacked McConnell or Chao. “I have an issue when the father-in-law is a wealthy Chinaperson,” Blankenship told The New York Times of McConnell’s wife’s family.
Blankenship is seeking a Supreme Court review of his conviction on the basis that prosecutors equated “criminal willfulness” with not doing enough for mine safety. The Justice Department is arguing against a review of the conviction. Blankenship was released from prison in May 2017, and swiftly began preparing to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
The announcement by Blankenship’s campaign came just before the eighth anniversary of the 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners in Upper Big Branch — a mine in West Virginia he managed through Massey Energy. Following an investigation and trial over the disaster, Blankenship was found guilty of violating safety rules and sentenced to serve one year in prison.
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