West Virginia GOP Senate hopeful Don Blankenship is amping up his racial attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with a new ad declaring, “Swamp captain Mitch McConnell has created millions of jobs for China people.”
“While doing so, Mitch has gotten rich,” Blankenship adds. “In fact, his China family has given him tens of millions of dollars.”
McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is Chinese American. Her father is chairman of a shipping company.
The new spot, which is expected to start airing on Friday, comes just ahead of the May 8 primary. As the dramatic contest comes to a close, Blankenship, a former coal baron who spent a year in prison following the 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 workers, has focused his assault squarely on McConnell — sometimes in harshly, racial terms.
During a recent interview with POLITICO, Blankenship said McConnell “has a lot of connections in China.” He also said that Chao, is “from China, so we have to be really concerned that we are in truth” putting America’s interests first.
Earlier this week, Blankenship began running another TV spot labeling McConnell “cocaine Mitch.” The spot is apparently in reference to a 2014 report that drugs were once found aboard a shipping vessel owned by Chao’s family.
McConnell has singled out Blankenship for defeat, convinced that a Blankenship primary win would destroy the party’s prospects for defeating Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November. A McConnell-aligned super PAC has aired about $1.3 million in negative ads against Blankenship.
Blankenship is facing two more mainstream GOP opponents, Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Recent polls have shown Blankenship fading.
With Blankenship going after Chao, McConnell’s political team has swung back aggressively. Josh Holmes, a longtime McConnell political adviser, has described Blankenship as “mentally ill.”
In his new spot, Blankenship responds to that accusation, saying: “Mitch’s swamp people are now running false, negative ads against me. They’re also childishly calling me despicable and mentally ill.”
The ad closes with a shot of Blankenship holding two young children, one on each arm as he pronounces, “I will beat Joe Manchin and ditch cocaine Mitch for the sake of the kids.”
A McConnell representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.