Updated May 3, 2018

America’s wildest Senate primary is in West Virginia

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The West Virginia Senate primary has become a lot more interesting thanks to Don Blankenship, one of three Republican contenders, who has railed against government and even high-profile Republicans with vulgar and personal insults.

Why it matters: Although conventional Republicans are hoping to force Blankenship — who's fresh out of prison after his involvement in a mine explosion — out of the race, he's found a following among Republicans who share his hatred for the establishment and appreciate his brashness.

Why he's so controversial: His attacks, on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in particular, as part of his cutthroat campaign are becoming too outrageous to ignore:

Attacks on McConnell

  • “I have an issue when the father-in-law [Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao's father] is a wealthy Chinaperson. There’s a lot of connections to some of the brass, if you will, in China ... I read in books that people think he’s soft on China." [NYT]
  • "This idea that calling somebody a Chinaperson, I mean I am an Americanperson, I don't see this insinuation from the press that there's something racist about saying a Chinaperson. Some people are Koreanpersons, some of them are Africanpersons. It's not any slander there." [Fox News Debate]
  • “One of my goals as U.S. senator will be to ditch cocaine Mitch. When you vote for me, you’re voting for the sake of the kids,”” [Facebook ad] [Link for context]
  • “McConnell should not be in the U.S. Senate, let alone be the Republican Majority Leader. He is a Swamp captain ... The Russians and McConnell should both stop interfering with elections outside their jurisdictions.” [Politico]
  • “The media, McConnell and others also like to spread the rumor that my candidacy is akin to that of Roy Moore. This is nonsense. ... My accusers are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.” [Politico]
  • In May, Blankenship brought a pair of "Ditch Mitch" baseball caps to a Fox News debate.

Attacks on his GOP opponents

  • “Voters in West Virginia don’t want Joe Manchin-lite anymore than they want Joe Manchin. Trying to trick voters by dressing up a candidate like Evan Jenkins with the same principles and failed policy positions of Joe Manchin smacks of the swamp logic...” [Blankenship campaign site]

The Russia investigation

  • “You know, I’ve had a little personal experience with the Department of Justice [referring to his time in prison]. They lie a lot, too” [Fox News debate]

The backdrop: West Virginia, a state President Trump won by 42 points, has become a key Republican target ahead of November, with several candidates hoping to snag Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's seat.

What's next: The Senate primary is on May 8.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 16 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Cuomo: Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked people"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference Sunday that President Trump's unexpected Saturday announcement of a possible "short-term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to curb the spread of the coronavirus "really panicked people."

Why it matters: Though Trump ruled out the mandatory quarantine later that day, Cuomo said people still called "all night long" asking about the comments and many likely fled the New York area — possibly spreading the virus further.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Health