Last night, West Virginia Republican candidate Don Blankenship got the double-whammy put on him. He based his campaign on a “drain the swamp” pitch to voters from the Republican (nee Libertarian) fringe. He actively trolled Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell as “Cocaine Mitch” and trolled his wife (US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao) as “Chinapeople”.
This week, Trump recognizing the disaster of having Blankenship as the Republican nominee, encouraged West Virginia Republicans to vote for anyone but Blankenship.
To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
Note to voters. Being anti-McConnell with Trump actively campaigning against you is not a good combination in red states in 2018 apparently.
After Blankenship finished third last night in essentially a three person race, McConnell trolled Blankenship back. Hard.
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) May 9, 2018
Meanwhile, in Indiana, a pro-Trump Republican businessman named Mike Braun, running against two incumbent Republican congressmen, won. Braun had switched to the Republican party in 2012. His opponents tried to hang that around Braun’s neck. Braun was well-organized and well-funded and dusted the competition. He’ll face incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly (D) and there’s a good chance that seat could flip.
What does this mean in Mississippi?
The Chris McDaniel campaign has clearly fashioned his campaign along the same “anti-establishment”, “Ditch Mitch” fault lines as Blankenship. He’s running to try to “drain the swamp” ostensibly without any support from Trump.
Expect McConnell to return the favor.
Should Trump endorse Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith as many believe he might, Mississippians may look to West Virginia as a reference point for the sort of success McDaniel could expect fighting upstream against both Trump and McConnell. Three independently conducted polls in the last month (YallPolitics, Mason Dixon and the US Chamber) all told virtually identical story lines and placed McDaniel a distant third in what is now a three candidate race.
November is a long time away, but his current poll numbers and the dynamics from last night’s wins for more mainstream Republicans with better chances of beating Democrats in WV and IN won’t likely do anything to help third party PAC money come off the sidelines for McDaniel’s campaign.