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November 09, 2006

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Blankenship hurt GOP, chairman says

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  • By Scott Finn
    Staff writer

    Call it the Blankenship backlash.

    Many Democrats and Republicans alike were surprised by the results of Tuesday’s election in the House of Delegates races. Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship reportedly spent close to $3 million in a bid to help Republicans take over the House.

    Instead, Democrats gained four seats, increasing their majority to 72 of 100 seats.

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    In race after race where Blankenship spent money, the Republican he supported lost and the Democrat won.

    Blankenship actually hurt Republicans Tuesday, said state Republican Party Chairman Doug McKinney.

    Campaign finance laws prevented the state GOP from working with or even talking to Blankenship, McKinney said. They couldn’t have stopped him if they tried.

    “Democrats campaigned hard to link Republicans to Don Blankenship, as if that were a bad thing,” McKinney said.

    “This election is one the like of which has never been seen. There’s nothing you can do. Even if you called him up and said, ‘I wish you’d back off,’ that would be coordinating with him and you can’t do that,” he said.

    So far, Blankenship has reported spending more than $2 million to influence House races. But he told West Virginia Public Broadcasting the total was “probably closer to $3 million.”

    What led to the failure of the unprecedented campaign by Blankenship? Larry LaCorte, a Democratic campaign consultant for Rainmaker Media, pointed to several factors:

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