Convicted coal baron Don Blankenship says being sent to prison by Obama is ‘badge of honor’

Blankenship, who went to prison for a role in a mine disaster that killed 29, is now running ads saying he “stood strong on the war on West Virginia when no one else would.”

Disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship isn’t exactly ashamed that he served one year in prison for his part in the death of 29 West Virginia miners in the deadliest mine explosion in decades.

In fact, the felon turned GOP Senate candidate considers it a source of pride, especially considering the person he says put him there.

“It’s a badge of honor in West Virginia to be put in jail for a misdemeanor by Obama,” Blankenship said last week.

This is the same Obama-bashing shtick that Blankenship has been peddling around the state for the last few months.

In town halls across West Virginia, Blankenship has trotted out relatives of the mine disaster victims, attempted to divert blame, and even had a fire boss who helped identify the disaster’s dead help make his case that his imprisonment was Obama’s fault.

To further make his point, Blankenship launched an ad in West Virginia markets labeling Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton his “enemies,” and painting himself — the man convicted for a part in the death of 29 miners — as the real hero for West Virginians.

“Barack Obama put Don in prison for a made-up misdemeanor charge because Don told the truth about UBB [Upper Big Branch mine disaster],” the ad’s narrator says over images of Blankenship during the court proceedings.

Then, after blasting Clinton for saying that “Don got off easy,” the spot concludes, “Obama and Hillary are Don’s enemies because Don stood strong on the war on West Virginia when no one else would.”

It is a spectacular conceit, but one that seems to be paying off for the mega-rich coal baron in a state where Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s “arbitrary” and “punitive” rules are seen as job killers.

Blankenship is spending big money to paint himself as someone willing to fight the enemies of coal. It worked for President Donald Trump in 2016, and it seems to be working for Blankenship now.

Thanks to his massive self-funded ad buys, Blankenship is now in second place among GOP contenders in two polls. He is dangerously close to toppling the front-runners and winning the primary.

If he does, Blankenship has no doubt that Trump will look beyond the fact that he is a convicted felon. Perhaps in part because they both have declared Hillary and Obama as their sworn foes, Blankenship believes Trump will lend him his full support.