The Blankenship momentum was never real in West Virginia

Geneva Stokes
May 11, 2018

Pittenger's loss surprised national and local Republicans alike, but early reactions to the three-term congressman's loss pointed to an "anti-establishment GOP vote that came out big tonight", said Brad Crone, a campaign consultant who's worked with Democrats and Republicans in the state.

GOP candidate Don Blankenship's loss in the West Virginia Senate primary provided comic fodder for Trevor Noah on Wednesday's "The Daily Show".

The West Virginia Senate campaign was equally degrading, with Morrissey and Representative Evan Jenkins competing with former A. T. Massey coal boss and convicted criminal Don Blankenship, who poured $3.5 million of his corporate fortune into ads which featured increasingly unhinged and racist diatribes.

While that's not unusual, not only does Capito regularly work with her West Virginia counterpart, Democrat Joe Manchin, on a number of issues, they're long-time friends. Sherrod Brown, "does not think the way we think. when it comes to borders, when it comes to so much", delivering a message that Republicans hope to hear frequently. After all, it is not uncommon for control of Congress to change hands during a presidency for a variety of reasons, including dissatisfaction with those now holding office and the perceived strength of opposition to the president himself.

The GOP will likely funnel money into Morrisey's campaign as they could potentially flip Manchin's seat. He will take on rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) in November.

State Senator Richard Ojeda won the Democratic nomination against token opposition.

Blankenship added that while he shares many of Trump's views, "I refrain from taking positions based on fake news and swampers' rhetoric". Trump said Renacci's opponent, Democratic U.S. Sen.

And while President Donald Trump emerged from the first batch of primaries with clear political victories, the same can't be said for those seeking to borrow and build on his campaign playbook.

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About two-thirds of voters (64%) say they consider Trump to be extremely or very important to their vote for Congress this year. More than 8 in 10 voters (84%) say the economy will be "extremely" or "very" important to their votes, while 64% say the same of the President.

It's interesting to note, last time Manchin ran for Senate he won 52 of 55 state counties; but Trump won all 55 counties in 2016.

"In West Virginia, his one tweet single-handedly swung the dynamics of a race", Stepien said. The White House anxious that Blankenship's baggage would make it all but impossible to defeat Manchin. He will now face Mike DeWine in November to determine who will replace outgoing Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Republican leaders had anxious that a win by Blankenship would cost them a plum shot at defeating Sen. Currently, the split is 51 Republicans to 47 Democrats.

The Point: None of this is definitive proof that Republicans will be able to beat back the Democratic wave.

"I, I don't know".

"We just started from so far behind with the hangover of the explosion we couldn't make it up", Blankenship said late Tuesday, noting that the probation stemming from his prison term would formally end in a matter of minutes. And a group allied with the national GOP, known as Mountain Families PAC, had spent more than $1.2 million in attack ads against Blankenship.

Mandel challenged Brown six years ago, which was a hard one for the incumbent.

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