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Former Massey CEO Blankenship Running for Senate in West Virginia

March 19, 2018, 1:47 PM

On a cold, rainy night in West Virginia coal country this winter, Don Blankenship glares out at a half-empty conference room at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.

For almost an hour, the ex-coal executive and ex-con reads off a teleprompter, doing his best impression of a political candidate. For a big man, Blankenship has a surprisingly soft voice. His message is anything but. He talks of his years of union-busting, the twin evils of illegal immigration and opioid addiction—blaming the first for causing the second—and the folly of environmental regulation.

Don Blankenship, former chief executive officer of Massey Energy, speaks at a campaign event in Huntington, W. Va., on Feb. 1.
Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Throughout, he never strays far from ...