4 states hold primary elections

Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:58 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018
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8:57 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018

CNN projects: Cordray, DeWine win nominations in Ohio governor primary

Richard Cordray, the former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head, has won the Democratic nomination for Ohio's governor, and state Attorney General Mike DeWine has won the GOP nomination, CNN projects.

Cordray faced Sen. Bernie Sanders-backed former Rep. Dennis Kucinich. DeWine was facing Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

8:21 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018

Don Blankenship's probation ends at 12:01 a.m. ET

From CNN's Dan Merica

Don Blankenship, the ex-con coal baron running for the West Virginia Republican Senate nomination Tuesday night, is poised to have a good night — even if loses.

Oddly enough, Blankenship’s probation after a year in prison for his involvement in the deadliest US mine explosion in four decades ends at 12:01 a.m. ET, according to his top aide, Greg Thomas.

The probation restricted Blankenship’s travel — he couldn’t leave the state under most circumstances — and required regular checks with his probation officer.

But that ends tonight, the same night he could win the Republican nomination.

Blankenship is allowed to vote in the state of West Virginia, he told CNN on Monday, and voted early for himself.

8:10 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018

CNN projects: Businessman Mike Braun wins Indiana GOP Senate primary

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Mike Braun, businessman and former state representative, has won Indiana's Republican primary, CNN projects, and is now set to face Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in one of the marquee Senate contests of this year's midterm elections.

Braun began the race as a little-known figure outside his hometown of Jasper in rural southwestern Indiana. But he spent more than $5 million of his own money on the race, allowing him to dwarf his opponents, GOP Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, in television advertising.

8:05 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018

Sister of miner killed in coal mine explosion: "I will do anything to help" Blankenship

From CNN's Dan Merica

Gwen Thomas, sister of Grover Skeens, a miner killed in the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion, just arrived at Don Blankenship’s primary night party.

Thomas has backed Blankenship despite the mine disaster, telling reporters for years that she doesn’t blame the coal baron and instead blames the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

“I will do anything to help him,” she told CNN.

Thomas has been featured in Blankenship ads and the coal baron, should he win, would almost certainly use her in the general election, where a primary attack against him will be his handling of the Upper Big Branch disaster.

Thomas told CNN that she is ready and willing to do more for Blankenship in the general election, should he win tonight’s primary.

Thomas is unique because almost all the other families involved in the Upper Big Branch explosion oppose Blankenship.

7:55 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018

He spent a year in prison for a coal mine explosion, and he wants to be West Virginia's senator

From CNN's Dana Bash and Bridget Nolan

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Coal baron Don Blankenship, who spent a year in prison for his involvement in the deadliest US mine explosion in four decades, is running for Senate in West Virginia.

Blankenship was CEO of Massey Energy when the Upper Big Branch Mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 people.

In 2015, he was convicted conspiracy to violate mine health and safety standards — a misdemeanor — and was later sentenced to a year in prison before being released in May of 2017.

What does he say to voters who believe he has blood on his hands from the mining tragedy?

"The thing I would say to 'em is, Upper Big Branch deadly explosion is one of the biggest reasons they should vote for me if they're, have family members or are involved in the coal industry. Unlike any other person that I know of, I stood up against the establishment when they falsely claimed that the explosion was caused by the coal miners," he argued.

Blankenship also insists the mine exploded because of federal regulators.

"These miners have had 400 years of experience and they were forced to change the ventilation by a guy that was hardly old enough to shave, and by God, that has got to stop," he said.

7:55 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018

CNN projects: Mike Pence's brother wins GOP nomination in Indiana

From CNN's Sophie Tatum and Eric Bradner

Vice President Mike Pence's older brother, Greg Pence, has won the Republican nomination for his congressional bid in Indiana, CNN projects.

The seat, which was vacated due to Rep. Luke Messer's Senate run, represents parts of rural eastern Indiana, and was previously held by Mike Pence. 

Greg Pence had never before run for office. He serves as the finance chairman of Messer's Senate campaign.

The eldest of six Pence siblings and the owner of antique malls in southern Indiana, Greg Pence is also part of his brother's inner circle, CNN previously reported.

7:38 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018

Polls close in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Polls have closed in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia in primary elections.

In West Virginia, the political world is watching to see if ex-convict and coal baron Don Blankenship defeats Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins in the Republican race to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. 

There are also GOP Senate primaries in Indiana and Ohio, two other states where President Donald Trump won in 2016 and Democratic incumbents are up for re-election this fall. 

House races in Ohio and North Carolina will also get attention on election night.

In Ohio, the primaries for former GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi's 12th District seat will set up a potentially competitive August special election. In North Carolina, Republican Reps. Robert Pittenger and Walter Jones are attempting to fend off primary challenges.

7:35 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018

Trump urges West Virginia to vote against Blankenship

From CNN's Dan Merica and Maegan Vazquez

Trump on Monday urged voters in West Virginia to reject controversial Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship in Tuesday's primary, stepping into a contest where establishment Republicans have grown increasingly worried that the ex-con coal baron could win.

Here's what he tweeted:

Blankenship responded to Trump later Monday morning, saying the President "doesn't know me and he doesn't know how flawed my two main opponents are in this primary."

In a lengthy statement, Blankenship said "the establishment is misinforming" Trump and vowed that he is capable of beating the state's vulnerable Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, in a general election.

"Tomorrow, West Virginia will send the swamp a message—no one, and I mean no one, will tell us how to vote. As some have said, I am Trumpier than Trump and this morning proves it," Blankenship concluded in his statement.

7:21 p.m. ET, May 8, 2018

These are the Republicans running for Senate in West Virginia

There are three main candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat in West Virginia. Whoever wins will go up against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin this fall.

Patrick Morrisey is West Virginia's attorney general. He was first elected in 2012, and reelected in 2016. Previously, he served as counsel to the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, according to his online biography.

Rep. Evan Jenkins has served in both cambers of the West Virginia state legislature:, according to his biography. He was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1994 and the West Virginia Senate in 2002. He's been serving in the US House since his 2014 election.

Don Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, and was leading the business when the Upper Big Branch Mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 people. In 2015, he was convicted conspiracy to violate mine health and safety standards and was later sentenced to a year in prison. He was released in May of 2017.