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Blankenship at a town hall in Morgantown, WV. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty

Don Blankenship, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in West Virginia, suggested during a radio appearance Monday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces a conflict of interest by being married to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao — not because of her Cabinet position, but because her father is "a wealthy Chinaperson," the New York Times reports.

The backdrop: Blankenship, a former coal magnate, was firing back after an attack ad from a super PAC linked to McConnell criticized him for contaminating local drinking water. The purpose of the ad was to aid Blankenship's opponents, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Representative Evan Jenkins, who are more conventional Republican candidates.

“I have an issue when the father-in-law is a wealthy Chinaperson. There’s a lot of connections to some of the brass, if you will, in China."
— Blankenship on 106.3, The River

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.