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Blankenship lays out agenda in Huntington Town Hall

Controversial+senatorial+candidate+Don+Blankenship%2C+laying+out+his+agenda.+
Controversial senatorial candidate Don Blankenship, laying out his agenda.

Controversial senatorial candidate Don Blankenship, laying out his agenda.

Lilly Dyer | Photo Editor

Lilly Dyer | Photo Editor

Controversial senatorial candidate Don Blankenship, laying out his agenda.

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The controversial candidate for U.S. Senate and former CEO of Massey Energy Company Don Blankenship hosted a campaign town hall at Big Sandy Superstore Arena yesterday evening.

After twenty-nine men died in the mine explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine in 2010, Blankenship was convicted of conspiring to break federal mine safety standards and was later sentenced to spend a year in federal prison. Blankenship is now aiming to win the Republican vote for U.S. Senate.

Blankenship’s speech began with commercials of former employees saying the former CEO was convicted of a crime that he did not commit, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration should take full responsibility.  Several ads compared Senator Manchin and Blankenship by saying Blankenship provided more jobs than Manchin has since the current senator took office.

The Senate hopeful spoke of both West Virginia and Massey Energy’s history.

“This background, or this history, is critical to understanding why the (United Mine Workers) bosses and their friends, including their close friend Barack Obama, have been willing to attack me so viciously- including trying to put me in prison for life,” Blankenship said.

He then expressed disappointment in the current representation of West Virginia, saying “They have opinions without the discomfort of any thought.” Blankenship said he sees room for West Virginia to grow, however, the current administration is holding the state back.

“Their actions also make clear that they care more about their political career than they are in the interest of West Virginians,” he said.

“Many West Virginians believe I am radical, and they are very critical of my views,” Blankenship said. “Webster’s Dictionary defines radical as ‘seeking fundamental change,’ and so I agree with that. I agree that I am radical if it means fundamentally changing our government that is destroying our way of life.”

He also said West Virginia should be ashamed of its poverty, especially how it is affecting the children, and West Virginians are obligated to do something about it.

Blankenship also spent time describing the difference between Senator Manchin and himself. He used various methods, including saying Manchin and his supporters have no forward vision and telling a story of a horse with no vision that is entered in a race.

As for Huntington and the current opioid crisis, Blankenship said the first step is stopping drug trafficking.

“We cannot allow drugs to pour into our borders from other countries,” Blankenship said. “President Trump understands this, but, obviously, Senator Manchin does not understand this.”

The ex-coal chief also said the second step to fixing the drug problem is to drug test all job positions in pharmaceutical companies, as well as government employees.

“I know this works, because I fixed the drug problem at Massey,” Blankenship said.

Blankenship also said he believes that the drug problem will be reduced when drug dealing becomes less profitable. He cited his experience in prison with drug dealers and how they went right back to dealing due to the high profits.

As for illegal immigration, Blankenship said the number of illegal immigrants in the United States is higher than the number of West Virginians living in West Virginia.

When asked about his plan to help higher education in West Virginia due to the large budget cuts, Blankenship said he believes the government should support higher education in all ways possible before expressing his concerns.

“You know, I am bothered sometimes by the fact that a lot of universities are teaching very liberal material,” Blankenship said. “They are not teaching what I would call traditional American culture. And we have, many times, more foreign students at American universities than we do American students. We need for our universities to be putting America first. We need to make sure children know what America is really about.”

The West Virginia primary is May 8.

Ginny Blake can be contacted at [email protected]

 

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