Blankenship bid divides West Virginia, as GOP primary rivals praise Trump intervention

President Donald Trump on Monday urged voters in West Virginia to reject former coal executive and GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship, throwing his support behind the two other major contenders in Tuesday's primary.

Blankenship has billed himself as an anti-establishment Republican in the vein of the unorthodox president, embracing the label that he is "Trumpier than Trump".

Republicans worry they'll blow their chance to unseat Sen.

"To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference", the president wrote on Twitter.

McConnell's wife is Trump's transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan.

Morrisey, one of the two beneficiaries of Trump's tweet, said he hasn't spoken to the president in the past few days, but nominating a Republican who can defeat Manchin is key.

A trio of incumbent Democratic senators representing states Donald Trump captured in the 2016 presidential election, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Sherrod Brown of OH and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, will finally have a Republican opponent after Tuesday.

Both Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey have positioned themselves as ardent Trump supporters, denouncing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation as a "witch hunt" and echoing Trump's calls to "drain the swamp".

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West Virginia was considered a Democratic stronghold during the 20th century. Problem is, Don Blankenship, now running for Senate, can't win the General Election in your State.No way!

In a statement Monday, Blankenship dismissed Trump's tweet, calling the president "a very busy man and he doesn't know me and he doesn't know how flawed my two main opponents are in this primary".

Republicans are sounding the alarm as it appears Blankenship, who spent a year in prison for violating mining safety regulations following an explosion that killed 29 miners, is leading the pack again ahead of Tuesday's primary. He won the state in the 2016 election by 42 percentage points.

Blankenship argued that neither Jenkins or Morrisey could beat Manchin without his support, but he would prevail over the Democratic stalwart "even without the support of the establishment". What about that time he referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chao's husband, as "Cocaine Mitch".

Republicans want to retain control of Congress in the November congressional elections that are viewed by some as referendum on Trump's presidency.

"No more fumbles like Alabama", he said.

"I think the president is right here", McCarthy said. Last week, Blankenship released an ad attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his "China family".

Trump's run was also defined by a host of conspiracy theories, from raising false questions about Ted Cruz's father being tied to President John F. Kennedy's death to repeatedly questioning President Barack Obama's birth certificate to besmirching Muslims by suggesting they were cheering in New Jersey on September 11.

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