Coal baron and federal convict Don Blankenship’s bid to be on the November ballot for a US Senate seat has ended, by ruling of a disheveled and short-handed state supreme court.
Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Coal who served time in federal prison for crimes arising out of the deaths of 29 coal miners at a Massey mine, lost in May’s Republican primary to Patrick Morrisey, who now faces incumbent Joe Manchin. But Blankenship did not stop there, petitioning the West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner for a place on the ballot as a candidate for the “Constitution party”. When the request was denied as a violation of the state’s “sore loser” law, which prevents a candidate who loses a primary to run in the general election for the same office, Blankenship filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus with the state’s high court asking for Warner’s decision to be overturned.
The Court entertained the arguments of Blankenship and of the Secretary of State earlier today, and issued its Order later stating that the writ would be denied.The Order reads, in pertinent part:
After careful consideration of all filings and oral argument by the parties, the Court is of the opinion that thewrit shall be, and it hereby is, denied. 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..
The Order further promised a full opinion would be forthcoming.
Of note, there remain only two justices on the state’s high court who have not resigned or been charged with felonies. It is unclear if those two Justices sat in on the arguments; the Order mentions only the three circuit court judges who are sitting by temporary appointment. Evan Jenkins, who also lost to Morrisey in the primary, was appointed last week to fill one of the empty supreme court seats but has not taken the bench yet, and did not sit on the panel to hear arguments in Blankenship’s case.