As the tight contest hurtles to a close, four Republicans said they’d reviewed polling conducted in recent days showing Blankenship, who spent a year in jail following the 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 workers, moving narrowly ahead of his more mainstream GOP rivals, Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
The Republicans cautioned that the surveys, designed to offer a snapshot of the race, were conducted over a brief period of time and may be overstating Blankenship’s support.
Still, Blankenship’s rivals and other Republicans are alarmed. Many are convinced that a Blankenship win, coming just months after the disastrous Alabama Senate race, would destroy the party’s prospects of defeating Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November.
Some Republicans involved in the race said they were hoping the White House would intervene ahead of the Tuesday primary, though it remains unclear whether it will do so.