Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is fighting hard to hold on to his Senate seat, and his first campaign video just proved he isn’t pulling any punches. The ad highlighted a 1968 mine explosion in a jab at the potential Republican opponent who was responsible for a different fatal mining disaster in later years.
Manchin’s video is referring to Don Blankenship. Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy as well as a contender for the Republican nomination for Manchin’s Senate seat.
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In 2010, at the Upper Big Branch Mine, there was a mining disaster that claimed the lives of 29 people. In 2015, a jury convicted Blankenship of conspiring to violate safety standards at the mine.
Blankenship was released from his one-year prison sentence in 2017, just in time to run for office.
In the campaign ad, Manchin stands in front of a memorial for the people who died in the mine explosion in 1968, as he points out the names of the people he knew who died there.
“I lost an uncle, I lost a neighbor, I lost guys I played ball with. This is real for me.”
Manchin’s seat became a top Republican priority after President Donald Trump won in his state by more than 40 points in 2016.
“As West Virginians, we’ve all faced hardships. People here have been screwed by both political parties. Yes, Washington sucks, but West Virginians don’t give up, and I will never give up trying to make it better.”
The West Virginia primaries are set to take place on May 8. Currently, Manchin faces a slightly more progressive challenger in the Democratic primary named Paula Jean Swearengin. Manchin, however, is expected to carry the nomination.
Blankenship has been active in local and state politics for quite some time and is a GOP donor, as well. He is running a close race against state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins.
For now, the Republican leadership in Washington doesn’t seem to be fans of Blankenship. They are wary that his conviction for safety violations in the mining disaster make him a poor choice for the general election. They have launched attacks in an attempt to stop him from attaining the GOP nomination in the state.
Watch the full ad below.
Feature Image via YouTube Video.