West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship, a former mining tycoon who was sent to jail in 2016 for his culpability in the deaths of 29 miners who worked for him, is coming under increased attacks from establishment Republicans who fear that he could doom their chances to win if he becomes their nominee.
The New York Times reports that Blankenship is now hitting back at the establishment by launching personal and racially charged attacks on Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
During an appearance on a West Virginia radio show, Blankenship claimed that McConnell’s marriage to Chao is a conflict of interest because her father is a “wealthy Chinaperson,” while hinting that might be a reason why McConnell is “soft on China.”
“There’s a lot of connections to some of the brass, if you will, in China,” he said.
The Times notes that there’s irony in this attack because Blankenship’s own wife, Farrah Meiling Hobbs, was herself born in China. Additionally, the Times reports that Blankenship in the past has said “admires China’s state-controlled economy and has expressed interest in gaining Chinese citizenship.”
Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, is a highly controversial candidate in West Virginia, as his flouting of mine safety laws left him legally liable for the deaths of 29 men in a 2010 mine explosion.