Schumer and Blankenship

Chuck Schumer may have a new BFUN — best friend until November. He’s Don Blankenship.

On the other hand, Blankenship has proven himself to be no friend to President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Blankenship, the West Virginia coal baron still running for the U.S. Senate, is doing Sen. Schumer, D-N.Y., an enormous favor. He’s also being a good buddy to a fellow he claims to dislike intensely — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

It’s Schumer’s job to ensure that fellow Democrat senators vote the party line. That includes having them vote against Kavanaugh.

Nearly all the Democrat senators can be relied upon. But as I’ve noted previously, three red-state members of Schumer’s party — Manchin, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. — have a problem. Voters in their states supported President Donald Trump. Dare they, especially Manchin, oppose the president on Kavanaugh?

Manchin’s position could have been precarious, given Trump’s 42-point margin over Hillary Clinton in our state. In a one-on-one race between Manchin and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the Republican nominee for the Senate, a vote against Kavanaugh would have spelled doom for Manchin in November.

But it’s not a two-man race. Blankenship, who lost the May primary to Morrisey, is staying in. The Constitution Party agreed to put him forth as their nominee. And this week, Blankenship attempted to file as the party’s candidate, to be listed on the ballot.

Secretary of State Mac Warner rejected Blankenship’s bid. Warner cites the state’s “sore loser law” banning Blankenship from switching parties to get on the ballot. Now, the issue will go to court.

But as long as Blankenship remains viable, he’s good for Schumer and Manchin — and bad for Kavanaugh.

Both Morrisey and Blankenship will appeal to pro-Trump voters. If both are candidates, they will split that bloc — and Manchin will waltz right into re-election.

How does that help Schumer? Because he can go to Manchin and say, “Look, Joe, the Blankenship factor means you don’t have to vote for Kavanaugh in order to win. You can lose a few votes from Republicans and, remembering West Virginia still has more Democrats, still prevail. So, Joe, you need to follow orders.”

Should Blankenship drop out, that wouldn’t be possible — and Manchin would be in for a real fight against Morrisey.

Thus, both Schumer and Manchin have every reason to be sending Blankenship thank-you cards.

What if the courts rule against Blankenship and he’s not on the ballot? Ever heard of write-in votes? Blankenship clearly has enough staunch supporters to mount a strong campaign of that nature. He certainly has the name recognition. And his campaign has been classic Trump — anti-establishment, both Republican and Democrat.

A few percentage points taken from Morrisey by write-ins for Blankenship could tip the election to Manchin. Even five points, well within the realm of possibility, could do it.

West Virginians are too smart to throw their votes away on a candidate who can’t win, you say?

In the 2016 presidential election here, nearly 5 percent of votes went to Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and Darrell Castle. None of them had any chance of winning.

So, if Blankenship dislikes Manchin so intensely, why has he embarked on a course of action certain to help the incumbent?

Folks who should know tell me it’s because Blankenship takes politics personally. Some of Morrisey’s attacks during the primary election stung Blankenship enough that he’s decided to get even — apparently even if that means helping Manchin and Schumer.

That’s crazy. West Virginians going along with Blankenship are helping him pursue a vendetta — not a realistic prospect of cleaning up the swamp.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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