CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Latest on convicted ex-coal baron Don Blankenship's announcement that he'll run for U.S. Senate as a third-party candidate (all times local):
A professor says if Don Blankenship is successful in making the U.S. Senate campaign a three-way race in West Virginia this fall, it "throws everything into uncertainty."
West Virginia Wesleyan College political history professor Robert Rupp says Blankenship has a self-funded candidacy and plenty of motivation as he tries to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Yet Rupp says a Blankenship candidacy could help Manchin by potentially taking conservative Republican votes away from GOP candidate Patrick Morrisey.
Blankenship finished third in the Republican primary won by Morrisey earlier this month. Blankenship says he'll try to continue his bid as a candidate for the Constitution Party.
Rupp says Blankenship "was not going to yield being the center of attention in West Virginia politics just because he only got 20 percent" of the primary vote.
A law professor says West Virginia's "sour grapes" law could have different interpretations for the third-party candidacy of convicted ex-coal baron Don Blankenship.
West Virginia University constitutional law professor Robert Bastress says the state law in question "is ambiguous." The law pertains to candidates who lose in a primary and choose to run in the general election with another political party.
Bastress says the law is "subject to an interpretation which would say he could do it and one that says he could not."
That interpretation aside, in order to get Blankenship on the ballot, the Constitution Party would be required to obtain enough signatures equal to at least 1 percent of all votes cast in the most recent U.S. Senate race. That was in 2014, when 453,659 ballots were cast.
The signatures must be submitted to the secretary of state by Aug. 1.
The West Virginia secretary of state's legal counsel says it's too early to focus on whether the third-party candidacy of convicted ex-coal baron Don Blankenship is legal.
Steve Connolly says the only notice the secretary of state's office has received is Blankenship switching from the Republican to the Constitution Party.
Connelly says Blankenship hasn't filed a certificate of nomination with the Constitution Party. When he does, Connelly says "then we'll come to a decision. As of right now, we don't have anything in front of us to decide."
Earlier this year, the state Legislature strengthened state code by specifying candidates who fail to win their party's primary cannot become a candidate for the same office through another party's nomination or certificate process. That change is effective June 5.
The West Virginia secretary of state's office has said convicted ex-coal baron Don Blankenship wouldn't be permitted to run in the general election for U.S. Senate after losing the Republican primary.
The comments came before Monday's announcement that Blankenship would run as a third-party candidate, with the Constitution Party.
Mike Queen is communications director for Secretary of State Mac Warner. Queen made the remarks for a story Saturday in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Queen says there's no specific language code spelling out a "sore loser" law. He says his office would look to lawmakers' "intent."
He says: "The Secretary's position is that Mr. Blankenship is not permitted to run again in the general election for the United States Senate. If Mr. Blankenship pursues the matter, he will most likely have to bring a legal action to force the Secretary to approve his candidacy."
On Monday, the office referred questions to its lawyer, who didn't immediately respond to questions.
Despite losing the Republican primary, convicted ex-coal executive Don Blankenship says he'll continue his bid for U.S. Senate as a third-party candidate, though it's unclear if the move violates the state's "sore loser" law.
Blankenship's campaign says in a Monday statement that he'll run as a member of the Constitution Party, which nominated him unanimously.
Blankenship spent a year in prison over a fatal 2010 explosion at one of his mines.
He finished third in the GOP primary this month. The president opposed him.
West Virginia secretary of state spokesman Steve Adams says Blankenship has officially switched his party affiliation to the Constitution Party.
Adams has said West Virginia's "sore loser" law prohibits major-party-affiliated candidates who lose in a primary from changing their registration to a minor party to take advantage of later filing deadlines. Adams referred questions Monday to legal counsel, who didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.