Blankenship has signatures to run again

READY TO RUN — In this Feb. 23 file photo, Don Blankenship speaks during an appearance in Weirton as part of his campaign for U.S. Senate. Blankenship says he has collected enough petition signatures to be included on the November general election ballot after being defeated in the May primary. -- Craig Howell

MARTINSBURG — Former West Virginia coal magnate Don Blankenship says he’s ready to get back into the West Virgnia senate race.

Blankenship said he has collected the requisite number of petition signatures and will be filing with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office in the next two weeks.

Blankenship, who was defeated in the Republican May 8 primary by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, accepted the Constitution Party nomination on May 22.

“We have submitted more than the required petition signatures to the Secretary of State,” Blankenship said in an email on Friday.

Collecting petition signatures is one of the obligatory hoops Blankenship needs to jump through to get back in the U.S. Senate race.

It is still not clear whether Blankenship’s proposed candidacy change violates West Virginia’s “sore loser” law that restricts a candidate from accepting a political party’s nomination after having already lost in a primary.

According to a guide book listed on the West Virginia Secretary of State website, “candidates affiliated with a recognized political party who run for election in a primary election and who lose the nomination cannot change her or his voter registration to a minor party organization/unaffiliated candidate to take advantage of the later filing deadlines and have their name on the subsequent general election ballot.”

A spokesman for the Office of the Secretary of State said the office cannot rule on Blankenship’s candidacy until he files all the necessary nomination and candidacy paperwork, including more than 6,000 signatures. He has until Aug. 1 to file.

Darrell Shull, field representative for the Secretary of State’s Office, confirmed Blankenship has officially switched his party affiliation to the Constitution Party.

“Until we have paperwork, there is no action (on his candidacy) that we can take,” Shull said. “If he submits nomination and candidacy papers, then we would have to make a decision whether to validate or invalidate his candidacy.

“Once Mr, Blankenship files we will be able to review and take action as appropriate,” Shull said.

Blankenship, a former executive of Massey Energy, spent one year in federal prison for violating mine regulations in a 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 miners.

At the time of his party change announcement, Blankenship said the Constitution Party’s platform is more aligned with his own personal political views, according to a release issued at the time of his candidate re-entry announcement.

“I find that my personal views and the views of the majority of West Virginians are significantly aligned with the Constitution Party’s platform,” Blankenship said. “The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American government behavior to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.”

Blankenship placed third in the primary race for the Senate seat now held by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVa.

(McConville can be contacted at jmcconville@journal-news.net, or via Twitter@jmcconvilleJN)


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