GOP senator: It’s not that Blankenship 'can’t win,' it’s that he 'shouldn’t win'

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (R-Ariz.) came out Monday against West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship, saying the former coal CEO and ex-convict shouldn’t win the general election against Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump administration seeks to use global aid for nuclear projects Shelley Moore Capito wins Senate primary West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins GOP gubernatorial primary MORE (D-W.Va.).

Flake’s remarks come a day before West Virginia Republicans cast primary ballots to decide on their party’s nominee to face Manchin. Republicans in Washington, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE, have slammed Blankenship as a bad pick who would lose a general election fight against Manchin.

“The problem isn’t that Don Blankenship can’t win a general election in West Virginia, it’s that he shouldn’t win a general election in West Virginia,” Flake wrote on Twitter.

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Blankenship will face off Tuesday against Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE (R-W.Va.) and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Republicans in Washington have urged Republican primary voters to support Jenkins or Morrisey instead of Blankenship.

Flake’s tweet followed a Trump tweet on Monday that told GOP voters in the state to oppose Blankenship because he “can’t win the General Election.”

Trump compared Blankenship’s chances in the West Virginia race to last year’s Alabama Senate election, in which GOP candidate Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSessions goes after Tuberville’s coaching record in challenging him to debate The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Sessions fires back at Trump over recusal: ‘I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did” MORE narrowly lost what should have been a safe seat for Republicans after allegations that he had sexual encounters with underage girls decades earlier.

Blankenship, a former coal CEO who spent time in prison after a fatal mine explosion for violating mining safety regulations, has drawn criticism for his campaign ads attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.) and his family.

In one, he called McConnell “Cocaine Mitch,” and in another he referred to McConnell’s “China family” — a reference to McConnell’s Chinese-American wife, Secretary of Transportation Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Bottom line Democrats to probe Trump’s replacement of top Transportation Dept. watchdog MORE.

“Swamp captain Mitch McConnell has created millions of jobs for China people. While doing so Mitch has gotten rich. In fact, his China family has given him tens of millions of dollars,” Blankenship said in the ad. 

McConnell and other top Republicans have also opposed Blankenship’s campaign.

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