Out Of Prison, Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship Running For Senator Now out of prison, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship says he's running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. At a town hall this week, West Virginians didn't appear to hold it against him.
NPR logo

Out Of Prison, Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship Running For Senator

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/579330266/579330267" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Out Of Prison, Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship Running For Senator

Out Of Prison, Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship Running For Senator

Out Of Prison, Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship Running For Senator

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/579330266/579330267" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Now out of prison, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship says he's running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. At a town hall this week, West Virginians didn't appear to hold it against him.

DAVE MISTICH, BYLINE: And I'm Dave Mistich in Morgantown, W.Va. President Trump's support remains high here in the state, and Republican candidates are using his popularity to boost their own campaigns. Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is one of them. He announced his run for U.S. Senate in November after being released from federal prison in May. He was convicted of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards at the Upper Big Branch Mine where 29 men died in 2010. Thursday, he put on a town hall meeting in Logan where he shared his own rags-to-riches story, bringing his audience up to the most recent chapter.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DON BLANKENSHIP: Eventually, after the poorhouse, the outhouse and the bathhouse, I was invited and ate at the private dining table at the White House. And just last year, I lived in California in the big house.

MISTICH: Blankenship says his experience in federal prison taught him a lot about the issues facing the country. In turn, he's now campaigning on hard-line conservative positions, many of which are at the heart of the shutdown negotiations in D.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLANKENSHIP: Illegal immigration - another issue. Illegal means illegal, and that's not complicated. A wall or something similar does need to be built.

MISTICH: Despite being such a controversial figure, Blankenship's first public campaign appearance was met with no visible or audible opposition.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I think the reason you're not getting a lot of questions - you gave us a lot of answers, and we appreciate what you have told us tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

MISTICH: Blankenship hopes to take on Democrat Joe Manchin this November. And he seems to be looking back to the 2016 election as a source of momentum, especially among voters in West Virginia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: If you get elected, are you going to hold Manchin accountable for the damage that he's done to this state?

BLANKENSHIP: Right after we finish with Hillary.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

MISTICH: For NPR News, I'm Dave Mistich.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.