GOP frets over West Virginia as 4 states decide primaries

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Voters in the heart of Trump country are ready to decide the fate of Don Blankenship, a brash businessman and GOP outsider with a checkered past who is testing the appeal of President Donald Trump’s outsider playbook in one of the nation’s premiere U.S. Senate contests.

Voters across four states Trump carried in 2016 are deciding primary elections Tuesday. The stakes are high as the GOP braces for potential major losses this fall.

Trump warned Monday that a Blankenship win in West Virginia’s Republican primary would destroy the party’s chance of defeating Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November.

The retired coal executive was released from prison last year for his role in a mine explosion that killed 29 men. Blankenship says no one will tell West Virginians how to vote.