Blankenship sues to get on November ballot

CHARLESTON — Don Blankenship, the former Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate primary, filed paperwork with the state’s highest court to get on the November ballot as a Constitution Party member.

Blankenship’s attorney, Robert Bastress of Morgantown, filed a writ of mandamus with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Thursday.

“The petition makes clear that the law relied upon by the Secretary of State in denying my ballot access is flawed in multiple ways and violates the Constitutions of both West Virginia and the United States,” Blankenship said in a statement. “The bottom line is that if the West Virginia Supreme Court rules that I cannot be on the ballot, it will be reversible error.”

If approved, the writ would cause the court to order Secretary of State Mac Warner to allow Blankenship to run as a Constitution Party candidate against U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, the incumbent Democrat, and Republican state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

The 44-page document makes the case that the Secretary of State’s Office misinterpreted the state’s “Sore Loser” law, which prevents candidates who lost a major party primary from running as an affiliated or minor party candidate in the general election.

It also says the law is being applied retroactively to his campaign. The law was strengthened by the West Virginia Legislature in March and went into effect June 5.

Blankenship ran as a Republican in the May primary, coming in third. He lost to Morrisey, who won with 34.9 percent of the vote. Morrisey was followed by U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins of Cabell County with 29.21 percent and Blankenship with 19.97 percent.

The Constitution Party nominated Blankenship on May 19, who officially switched his voter registration from Republican Party to Constitution Party on May 21.

Manchin is running for his second six-year term after winning a special election for the seat in 2010 and the full term in 2012.

The Secretary of State’s Office rejected Blankenship’s certificate of candidacy on July 27 after Blankenship submitted 12,767 signatures to get on the Nov. 6 ballot. As of Thursday only 6,386 of the 6,602 signatures required had been ruled valid, with 2,267 signatures left to be validated.

“We are not surprised that Don Blankenship has finally filed his legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision that he cannot be on the ballot for U.S. Senate this November,’ said Marc William, outside counsel for the Secretary of State’s Office. “We are reviewing his filing and will respond as ordered by the Court. We remain confident that the election statutes in West Virginia will be upheld and that Mr. Blankenship will not get a second chance to run for Senate.”