The West Virginia Supreme Court on Wednesday denied Don Blankenship a spot on the Senate general election ballot in November, after he lost the Republican primary earlier this year.
Blankenship – an ex-convict and coal baron who ran a bizarre conspiracy-laden and race-baiting campaign – finished third in the GOP primary in May. President Donald Trump came out against Blankenship the day before the election, and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the nomination.
In a statement later in May, Blankenship said he was still running because he had accepted the Constitution Party’s nomination. He filed a case with the state Supreme Court in an attempt to force West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner to put his name on the ballot in November.
However, West Virginia has a “sore loser” law that prohibits candidates who lose primaries from running in general elections.
The court’s ruling read: “The West Virginia Secretary of State is ordered to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that Donald L. Blankenship does not appear on the 2018 General Election Ballot for the Office of United States Senator for the State of West Virginia.”
Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, spent a year in federal prison after he was convicted of conspiring to violate mine safety standards in connection with the 2010 explosion of the Upper Big Branch Mine, which killed 29 miners.
During his campaign Blankenship referred to the father of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao as a wealthy “Chinaperson,” and later insisted the term wasn’t racist. In a campaign ad Blankenship also referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “Cocaine Mitch” and accused him of connections to the drug trade.
A McConnell-linked super PAC spent more than $1.3 million on anti-Blankenship ads during the primary. Republicans in Washington watched his candidacy in horror and worried that if he won the nomination it would jeopardize any chance the party had of defeating vulnerable Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November.
Blankenship called the court’s ruling a “frightening decision” Wednesday and said in a statement, “Essentially, the Republican Party can now slander a candidate throughout the Primary.”
He thanked his supporters and also said, “The Court’s decision is good for my family and for me personally. However, we regret not being able to help all West Virginians – particularly the unborn and the drug addicted.”
CNN’s Dan Merica, Terence Burlij and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.