Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dedicated years of his career to championing “free speech” in the form of unlimited political donations. And when the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling made all of McConnell’s dark money dreams come true, he celebrated the decision in a 2012 amicus brief supporting the ruling.
In his brief, […] he says the money has allowed “far more political speech in 2012 than would otherwise have been the case,” making the campaign less predictable and more interesting.
How apt. In fact, unlimited spending is exactly what’s made West Virginia’s GOP primary so entertaining, with self-funding coal baron Don Blankenship threatening to upend the race. And as the Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank points out, Blankenship’s surge in the polls came after he unloaded a host of racial slurs targeting McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Transportation.
Blankenship, who calls himself “Trumpier than Trump,” uncorked a racist and demagogic jeremiad about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and his Asian American wife, Elaine Chao, who happens to be a member of President Trump’s Cabinet. Blankenship dubbed McConnell “Cocaine Mitch,” implying he profited from drugs once found aboard a ship owned by McConnell’s father-in-law, who Blankenship calls a “China person.”
“Swamp Captain Mitch McConnell has created millions of jobs for China people,” Blankenship said in an ad. “While doing so, Mitch has gotten rich. In fact, his China family has given him tens of millions of dollars.”
It was disgusting — and it apparently worked. Internal polling by one of Blankenship’s opponents showed Blankenship surging from third to first place, according to Axios’s Jonathan Swan.
McConnell-aligned political groups have poured seven figures into defeating Blankenship, but the convicted criminal’s spending has buried the establishment.
Blankenship, free to spend as much as he desires, has far outspent his opponents, reportedly buying $640,000 of TV time in the past week alone. And he’s appealing to voters’ worst instincts. “I don’t see this insinuation by the press that there’s something racist about saying ‘China person,’ ” Blankenship said during a debate hosted by Fox News.
Whether Blankenship wins or loses, he has dimmed the GOP’s chances of capturing that seat considerably. In fact, just imagine how sweet it would be if Democrats manage to retake control of the Senate, at least in part, because Republicans failed to score a pick up in West Virginia against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Careful what you wish for, Mitch.