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Former coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid

Former coal executive Don Blankenship on Monday announced he will make a 2020 White House bid as a Constitution Party candidate. 

Blankenship, who unsuccessfully ran a third-party bid for Senate in West Virginia in 2018, took aim at President Trump in his 2020 announcement, saying the president's ego prevents him from getting stuff done.

"President Trump means well, but he simply cannot get it done because he is too busy mending his self-inflicted wounds and tripping over his ego," Blankenship said in his announcement.

Some of Blankenship's pledges echo Trump's 2016 campaign promises, including Blankenship's plan to "flush the swamp" and "tightly secure our borders and wend welfare and other benefits for those who are not ultimately granted citizenship." 

The former coal baron filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission at the end of October, when he released a statement blasting the two-party system. 

Blankenship previously spent a year in federal prison for willfully conspiring to violate mine safety standards while he was in charge of Massey Energy, which owned a West Virginia mine where 29 workers were killed in a 2010 explosion. 

He unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in West Virginia last year after the West Virginia secretary of state blocked his third-party bid. He finished third in the Republican primary for the seat to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who went on to lose the general election against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). 

In his 2020 bid announcement, Blankenship blamed his 2018 loss on a Republican-led "smear campaign" that he said "falsely" told voters he was a convicted felon and went to prison for manslaughter. 

Blankenship claims he was "falsely convicted."

His 2018 Senate bid raised eyebrows across the nation due to a series of controversial statements, including calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "Cocaine Mitch" and saying the Kentucky Republican faced conflicts of interest because his father-in-law is a "wealthy Chinaperson." 

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