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The world of Republican advisers close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell breathed a sigh of relief tonight as ex-con coal baron Don Blankenship conceded the Republican Party’s Senate nomination in West Virginia.
“Obviously the right thing happened here,” said one senior McConnell adviser.
A super PAC with ties to McConnell spent well over a $1 million attacking Blankenship.
The adviser argued that there were two candidates in the race – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins – who would make the race against Democrat Joe Manchin a top tier contest in November, but that Blankenship would have sunk their chances.
The adviser would not rule out that McConnell was celebrating tonight with bourbon.
“There is no bourbon like a Kentucky bourbon,” the adviser said. “He doesn’t pick among his favorite children.”
The adviser continued: “Suffice it to say, I am sure he thinks this is the right result.”
Patrick Morrisey will win the GOP Senate primary in West Virginia, advancing to face incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in November, CNN projects.
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.
US Representative Robert Pittenger has conceded tonight, losing a GOP primary challenge to Mark Harris in the North Carolina 9th District.
The race was a rematch of a primary battle in 2016, where Pittenger won by just 135 votes.
Coal baron Don Blankenship told supporters and reporters on Tuesday night that he was conceding his Senate bid.
“We are conceding the election,” he said.
Blankenship said he didn’t know what went wrong in the race but said the tweet from President Donald Trump played a large role.
That’s noteworthy because on Monday he said it would only cost him a point or two.
Blankenship served prison time following a 2010 mine tragedy that killed 29 people.
Don Blankenship has lost his bid for the Republican Senate nomination in West Virginia, CNN projects.
CNN projects he will place third, behind Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins in the race to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
It is not clear who will win the GOP nomination. Manchin secured the Democratic nomination as expected.
Don Blankenship, in an interview with CNN, ruled out a write in or third party bid if he doesn’t think he could be viable and when asked if a third-place finish in tonight’s Republican Senate primary met that standard, the ex-con coal baron agreed.
Asked about a third party run, which some political operatives would already be impossible because of West Virginia sore loser laws, Blankenship said he thought a third-place finish would also rule that out.
Blankenship has long said he would not support West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey if he wins and told CNN on Tuesday night that he won’t call Morrisey is he wins the race.
“He’s not an individual I can support,” he said.
He did say, however, that he would talk to Rep. Evan Jenkins, another candidate in the race.
Congressman Jim Renacci, who had the endorsement of President Trump, will win the GOP Primary in Ohio, setting up a fall race with Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown, CNN projects.
Renacci took on self-funding businessman Mike Gibbons in this primary.
Don Blankenship, while working the room at his primary night party in Charleston, reflected on what he would do if he loses tonight, acknowledging that the end of his probation means things are a win-win for him.
“I’d go on vacation. I am off of probation tonight at midnight. I haven’t been able to go places I’d like to go for three years now,” he said.
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.