Trump called Blankenship after Senate primary loss: report

Trump called Blankenship after Senate primary loss: report
© Getty

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE called ex-coal executive Don Blankenship on Wednesday, one day after Blankenship lost the GOP Senate nomination in West Virginia, according to Politico.

Three unidentified sources described the brief call to the news outlet as "straightforward, polite and cordial," with Trump offering praise for Blankenship's campaign.

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

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite aligning himself closely with the president, Blankenship's campaign took a hit the day before the West Virginia primary when Trump urged voters to reject his candidacy. 

"To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference," Trump tweeted on Monday. "Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State...No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!"

The president, echoing similar concerns from Republicans, reasoned that Blankenship wouldn't be able to defeat Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE in November's general election.

The GOP sees West Virginia — a state that Trump carried by more than 40 percentage points — as a prime opportunity to help widen their narrow 51-seat majority. And the party believes West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is the candidate who could topple a potentially vulnerable Manchin.

Blankenship, who finished third on Tuesday, said Trump's call for voters to reject him likely cost him the nomination. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"If there was any single factor, based on the polling of different times...it was probably President Trump's lack of endorsement...I don't know what else it would have been unless the polls were way off," he said in his concession speech Tuesday night.

In the final days of the campaign, national Republicans, anxious about a repeat of last year’s Alabama special election in which conservative firebrand Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreThe 5 most vulnerable senators in 2020 The biggest political upsets of the decade GOP predicts bipartisan acquittal at Trump impeachment trial MORE won the Senate nomination only to be defeated in a shocking upset by Democrat Doug Jones, unleashed a host of last-ditch efforts to quash Blankenship's candidacy.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate MORE (R-Ky.), who backed Morrisey, called Blankenship an "outlier" and “not on the [Republican] spectrum" during a campaign stop in West Virginia. Meanwhile, groups aligned with the GOP and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump admin releases trove of documents on Ukrainian military aid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions What to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) — whom Blankenship attacked repeatedly throughout his campaign — released comments and video condemning the candidate.

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 and Patrick Morrisey are the true conservatives. Don’t vote Don Blankenship,” warned one video released by Mountain Families PAC, an Arlington, Va.-based super PAC that spent more than $1.3 million running online and TV ads against Blankenship.

Blankenship took a parting shot at Trump on Wednesday, claiming the president had spread "fake news" against him.

"You, yourself, also spread fake news against me. Your interference in the West Virginia election displayed a lack of understanding of the likely outcome of the upcoming general election," Blankenship wrote in an open letter to Trump. "Patrick Morrisey will likely lose the general election. It’s too late to change that, but it’s not helpful to do to me what others are doing to you."

Blankenship closed the letter by stating that he looks forward to meeting Trump "in the near future."

Politico reported that Trump also reached out to Rep. Evan Jenkins, another Republican challenger who finished second to Morrisey, but has yet to connect with Morrisey himself.