Six months after his release from prison, Don Blankenship, the former CEO of coal company Massey Energy, has apparently decided to run for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia as a Republican, WCHS reported Wednesday. Blankenship stepped down as CEO in 2010 (and reportedly received an "egregious" golden parachute in the process) after 29 miners died in an explosion at a Massey Energy mine in West Virginia earlier that year. In 2016, a West Virginia judge sentenced him to a year in prison in connection with the deaths for conspiring to "willfully violate mandatory mine health and safety standards."
If Blankenship were to win the Republican primary, he would run against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who said in 2014, "I believe that Don has blood on his hands." Blankenship has taken to Twitter several times this year to attack Manchin and proclaim his own innocence. While West Virginia voters would prefer to vote for a Republican Senate candidate than a Democrat, a recent poll showed Manchin ahead of all his potential Republican challengers (although Blankenship was not included in the poll), in a state where President Trump has a 65 percent favorability rating among likely voters.
Blankenship's candidacy may be hampered by the mining catastrophe, but he could also run into some legal restrictions: He can't leave the state of Nevada without permission of his probation officer or a federal judge until the month of May. Kelly O'Meara Morales