Campaign

Blankenship releases ad calling McConnell 'Cocaine Mitch'

West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship (R) released a new ad on Monday in which he labels Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as "Cocaine Mitch."

"One of my goals as U.S. senator will be to ditch Cocaine Mitch. When you're voting for me, you're voting for the sake of the kids," Blankenship says at the conclusion of the campaign spot.

The ex-coal CEO has previously lobbed attacks at McConnell.

Blankenship's campaign in a press release on Tuesday pointed to McConnell's father in law in explaining the claim.

"His father-in-law who founded and owns a large Chinese shipping company has given Mitch and his wife millions of dollars over the years," the press release reads. "The company was implicated recently in smuggling cocaine from Colombia to Europe, hidden aboard a company ship carrying foreign coal was $7 million dollars of cocaine and that is why we've deemed him 'Cocaine Mitch.' "

Politico on Monday noted a 2014 report in the left-leaning Nation magazine that drugs were once found on a shipping vessel owned by McConnell's wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The Hill has reached out to McConnell's office for comment.

Blankenship previously attacked McConnell and Chao, saying last week that the Senate majority leader faces conflicts of interest because his father-in-law is a "wealthy Chinaperson."

McConnell, who has said he doesn't want Blankenship to win the West Virginia GOP primary, called the remarks "ridiculous."

Blankenship, who was released from prison less than a year ago, is battling Rep. Evan Jenkins (W.Va.) and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for the GOP nomination on May 8. The winner will face Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.).

A spate of recent polling shows Blankenship fading into third place in the primary race, after an outside group with ties to the national GOP spent heavily to sink his candidacy.

--This report was updated on May 1 at 1:48 p.m.

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