Don Blankenship could be on his way to becoming a study in how anti-establishment politics can backfire, even in the zenith of anti-establishment politics.
The West Virginia GOP Senate candidate is launching a war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to try to win his primary next week, but in the process he could be hurting his election chances more than he helps himself.
On Monday, a week before the GOP primary, Blankenship ran an ad calling McConnell “Cocaine Mitch.” To the viewers of that ad, Blankenship gave absolutely no context — letting people infer why a candidate for U.S. Senate would give an opponent such a moniker.
In a follow-up news release that he posted on his Facebook page, Blankenship linked to a 2014 report in the left-leaning Nation magazine that drugs were once found on a shipping vessel owned by McConnell’s in-laws.
For the past few weeks, Blankenship — one of three main candidates vying to take on Sen. Joe Manchin III (D) in November — has lobbed extremely personal, race-driven insults at McConnell’s family. He seems to have an obsession with McConnell’s family, particularly his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Last week, he accused McConnell of having a conflict of interest in governing because his wife’s father is a “wealthy China person.” He later told Politico that Chao is “from China, so we have to be really concerned that we are in truth.” (Fact check: Chao immigrated to the United States as a child from Taiwan, which China claims is part of China but functions largely as an independent country. It’s complicated.)
We see where Blankenship is trying to go with all this. Campaigning as a foil to the Republican establishment can be smart politics in Republican primaries, especially in the Trump era.
President Trump successfully ran as a foil to The Way Washington Works, including Republicans. And when Congress’s…