National GOP pours in money to stop Blankenship in West Virginia

National GOP pours in money to stop Blankenship in West Virginia
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National Republicans are pouring in money to sink ex-coal CEO Don Blankenship's GOP campaign for the Senate one week ahead of the Republican primary in West Virginia.

Mountain Families PAC, based out of Arlington, Va., is spending an additional $585,000 against Blankenship, according to filings made to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the weekend. 

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The investment comes on top of the roughly $743,000 the group pumped into the race earlier this month, bringing their total spending against Blankenship to more than $1.3 million in roughly two weeks. 
 
A bulk of the spending is going toward running TV ads against Blankenship, according to FEC records. 
 
An ad, uploaded to YouTube late last week, knocks Blankenship over the Upper Big Branch mining disaster, where 29 miners were killed in an explosion. Blankenship was sentenced to prison for a year for conspiring to violate mine safety standards. 
 
"Don Blankenship was about the money; West Virginia families paid the price," the ad's narrator says. 
 
An earlier ad from the group compared Blankenship to "toxic sludge." 
 
The group is also spending money on online advertising. 
 
National Republicans haven't publicly aligned themselves with the outside group, but the PAC has deep ties to the party and its allies in Washington. 
 
The bulk of the PAC's spending is going to the Main Street Media Group, a firm that previously worked with the Senate Leadership Fund, which is aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seek leverage for trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play House Democrats to vote on flavored e-cigarettes ban next year MORE (R-Ky.). 
 
The influx of new money against Blankenship comes as the anti-establishment candidate appears to be fading into third place in recent polling. 

A recent Fox News poll showed Blankenship with 16 percent support among Republican voters, behind Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE — who were at 21 and 25 percent, respectively.

The candidates are running for the GOP nomination to take on Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinManchin warns he'll slow-walk government funding bill until he gets deal on miners legislation Krystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? Potential Dem defectors face pressure on impeachment MORE (D).

Blankenship has increasingly lashed out at McConnell, suggesting he believes the GOP leader is behind the effort to sink his candidacy. 

"My run for the U.S. Senate offers voters an opportunity to begin draining the Swamp—this is why McConnell and the establishment are spending millions to defeat me," Blankenship said in a recent statement.

McCarthy Hennings Whalen, the firm Mountain Families PAC is paying to produce its TV ads, previously did work for McConnell's 2014 reelection campaign. 
 
And Ben Ottenhoff, listed as the group's treasurer, previously worked for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). He also set up a joint-fundraising committee last year for then-Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeState 'certificate of need' laws need to go GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama MORE (R-Ala.) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).