Don Blankenship

At its online convention this weekend, on its second ballot, the Constitution Party nominated as its 2020 Presidential Candidate Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, and failed 2018 U.S. Senate candidate. The Constitution Party currently claims ballot access in fourteen states. Blankenship will also be on the ballot as the nominee of the unaffiliated Constitution Party of Idaho. Also, ballot access efforts are ongoing in Pennsylvania and Arizona.  

Blankenship is the most well-known presidential candidate the Constitution Party has ever nominated. However, Blankenship might more rightly be considered infamous. In December 2015, he was convicted of conspiring to dodge federal health and safety standards at a mine where 29 miners died in 2010.  

Released from prison in 2017, Blankenship did the only thing a disgraced CEO could do: blame others for the problems that occurred and run a flamboyant campaign in a Republican U.S. Senate race. In that campaign, Blankenship defined himself as “Trumpier than Trump.”   

Like Trump, he handed out derogatory nicknames. He slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as “Cocaine Mitch.” However, while Trump’s nicknames sunk campaigns, McConnell embraced ‘Cocaine Mitch,’ creating a campaign t-shirt that has sold very well. Blankenship unleashed some racial language as part of his Trumpy effort as he attacked McConnell’s “China family,” a reference to McConnell’s wife (and U.S. Transportation Secretary) Elaine Chao.  

Smarting from Roy Moore’s loss in the 2017 Special Alabama Senate election, the President urged West Virginia primary voters to reject Blankenship, and voters did with Blankenship blaming Trump for his loss

Blankenship’s nomination is a minor concern for the Trump campaign. I’ve written that if U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, L-Mich., is on the ballot in November, it’s debatable where Amash’s support would come from. That’s true of most third-party candidates. Given the similarity between Trump and Blankenship, it’s tough to imagine support Blankenship support from anyone but Trump or those who wouldn’t vote otherwise. Also, Blankenship has shown an ability to get free media attention for his antics, and he’ll be on the ballot in the key swing states of Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, and Nevada.  

However, potentially low ballot access numbers hinder his ability to gain media attention. What will be interesting to see is whether Blankenship will self-fund his ballot access and campaign efforts. He spent $4 million on his failed senate bid. That’s chump change in a presidential race, but it would be a massive windfall by Constitution Party standards. For example, the 2016 nominee Darrell Castle only raised $52,000.  

The immediate fall out of Blankenship’s nomination assured that the Virginia Constitution Party would not be re-affiliating. The Virginia CP would like to support Justin Amash, and this is a state where the Libertarian Party doesn’t have ballot access. The LP could use the help if Amash is indeed the nominee. 

For conservatives who thought the Constitution Party might produce a credible alternative for either this election or long-term, this nomination slams the door on both possibilities. If I wanted to support someone like Trump, I’d just back Trump. After a quarter of a century trying to differentiate itself from the Republicans, the Constitution Party has instead settled for “just like the Republicans only more so.” 

The Constitution Party has weakened each election cycle with less ballot access for its presidential candidate and a slow bleeding of its affiliates through poor election performance and constant party schisms. Whether Blankenship’s nomination helps the party reverse its fortunes or hastens its flight to the ash heap of American political history remains to be seen. Whatever happens, if history’s any indicator, the only thing we can say for sure is that the Blankenship campaign won’t be uneventful. 

9 comments
  1. This article would be more balanced if it had mentioned that the Constitution Party got more votes for president in 2016 than it ever had before.

    1. As Shane referenced, this is an opinion piece. In addition, I don’t think the Constitution Party’s vote total in 2016 is anything to brag about. Darrell Castle received 203,090 votes. That broke the previous party record of Chuck Baldwin at 199,750 in 2008, so a difference of a little more than 3,000 votes. However, 5.3 million more people voted in 2016 than 2008 which makes a 3,000 vote increase a a bit unimpressive. In 2016, you had two of the worst major party nominees in history and a lot of people looking at going Third Party and the CP managed 0.15% of the vote.

    2. It’s pretty clearly a political hit-piece.
      The author makes no effort at all to explain that the Obama Administration REQUIRED Massie Mines to cut the airflow by 1/2 – in spite of the company warning the administration that it would result in an explosion.

      The author makes no effort at all to give any background on the fact that Blankenship was winning the election until McConnell lied about Blankenship’s status, by calling him a felon.

      The author makes no mention of the fact that people don’t serve 1 year in Federal Prison for a paperwork misdemeanor. Yet Blankenship did.

      Biased one-sided articles are obvious for what they are.

      Here is the information the author doesn’t want you to know.

  2. It could be worse. The American Independent Party in California (former CP state affiliate) is putting the Prohibition Party nominee on their ballot… because he fooled a lot of their uninformed primary voters by having the same name as the drummer of the progressive rock band Genesis. A teetotaler in the land of fruits and nuts? Gonna be interesting.

  3. How do you out Trump with a Trumplican Trump supporter? He was Nominated to help Trump get re-elected!

  4. Make no mistake about it Don Blankenship is a TRUMP Supporter he was given the Nomination so either VIRGINIAN, Charles Kraut, who several members of the National CP wanted for Vice-President, but he DECLINED each of them. Sheila “Samm” Tittle was another Virginian that was a quality candidate, who speaks fluent Spanish and though I urged Rep. Justin Amash months ago to run for President, I believe Samm Tittle is a better fit for Virginia. I hope the LP Nominates Rep. Justin Amash and the Constitution Party of Virginia will put up Samm Tittle. As Chairman of the Constitution Party of Virginia, not only did I not endorse anyone for President, I appointed each candidate to be a Nation al Delegate. Don Blankenship not only will not spend much if any of his money running for President, but as a TRUMPLICAN Blankenship will only campaign in states that are heavily Biden. Do not expect Blankenship to campaign in ID or Utah. He ran to block any real Constitutional Challenger to Trump. Thank you for giving the Constitution Party a mention in your article. The National Constitution Party has three pillars, Integrity, Liberty and Posperity. Now tell me how the Constitution Party can have Integrity and have Don Blankenship as their Nominee. I had to protect the INTEGRITY of the Constitution Party of Virginia, by saying “NO” to having Don Blankenship on our line. Other CP State Organizations can do the same or BOLT the CP because they lack INTEGRITY. The CP Claimes to support Liberty, but they refused to accept us into their National Party because of ME and my resistence to support their pitiful excuse of a human beingf let alone a Nominee for President. They also opposed accepting the CPV into their PArty because of my effort exposing the CORRUPTION within the leadership of the Constitution Party, when Frank Fluckiger, the former Chairman, illegally removed the Chairman of the Constitution of South Dakota with a REGISTERED REPUBLICAN and the CP National Vice-Chairman and Secretary were in on it and the CP National Committeered it up at their Wisconsin National Committee Meeting.

  5. I live in West Virginia, and I can tell you that very few people would vote for Don Blankenship. In fact, I’ve heard endless epithets directed at him, and countless anecdotes illustrating what a prick he is. But he doesn’t talk to regular people month, he wouldn’t break bread with them, because he sees himself as kind of royalty. He surrounds himself with yes-men, thus maintaining

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