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Morrisey: Blankenship 'would get crushed' in November

Morrisey: Blankenship 'would get crushed' in November
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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is mounting an eleventh-hour attack against ex-coal CEO Don Blankenship in the final days of the heated Senate GOP primary fight. 

Morrisey's campaign launched a robocall on Saturday warning that Blankenship "would get crushed in November" if he wins the party's nomination on Tuesday.

"His deep legal problems and criminal conviction show he believes he is above the law. A vote for Blankenship is a vote to advance liberal positions, higher taxes and abortion on demand," the robocall adds.

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Blankenship spent a year in prison for conspiring to violate mine safety rules after 29 miners were killed during a 2010 explosion at Upper Big Branch mine.

While national Republicans have fretted for months about a potential Blankenship victory in the GOP primary to take on Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinFive takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Blankenship endorses ex-W.Va. GOP Senate rival, calls him 'lying' drug lobbyist Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign MORE (D-W.Va.), Morrisey's attack marks a pivot for his campaign.

Morrisey has spent much of the primary focused on Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsJenkins resigns from House, is sworn in on W.Va. Supreme Court More than 50 Dem House challengers outraise GOP incumbents Key Republican says House taking targeted approach to combating opioid epidemic MORE (R-W.Va.), attacking his support for a mammoth government funding bill and for previously being a Democrat.

Underscoring the shift, Morrisey on Saturday warned that the GOP primary race is "now between a conservative fighter and a convicted criminal."

The rhetoric signals that he believes Blankenship is now his top competitor, a reversal from polling released less than two weeks ago by Morrisey's campaign that showed Blankenship in third place.

In addition to the robocall, Morrisey's campaign announced he will hold a press conference on Sunday to discuss "Blankenship's criminal record, his significant legal issues and how his candidacy threatens West Virginia's conservative agenda."

He also issued a statement on Friday knocking Blankenship over not filing a financial disclosure form with the Senate Ethics Committee. 

"Don Blankenship’s disrespect for the law and the people of West Virginia threatens to block our ability to advance conservative policies and imperils Republican chances of defeating Sen. Joe Manchin," Morrisey said. “Don’s continued flouting of the law demonstrates that he has learned nothing from his past legal troubles and his time in prison."

Blankenship's campaign declined to fire back at Morrisey on Saturday. Greg Thomas, a spokesman and adviser to Blankenship, said there is "no reason to create any more wounds to heal as all of us [have] the same goal —defeating Joe Manchin."