The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Mitch McConnell campaign taunts Blankenship — with a little help from Netflix’s ‘Narcos’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is known as a dour, all-business Washington power player. But on Tuesday night, McConnell’s campaign landed a gag at the expense of a Senate candidate who has been taunting the majority leader in recent weeks.

It had been a day in which West Virginia voters turned out for the Republican U.S. Senate primary, a closely watched race featuring three contestants. Although state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey topped the vote count, earning the right to take on incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin III in November, the candidate who caught the most national attention was Don Blankenship.

The former coal-mining executive pitched his campaign — in Trumpian fashion — as an anti-swamp attack on the GOP establishment, fixing much of his rhetoric in speeches and ads on McConnell. Blankenship was already a controversial candidate after spending a year in prison for his role in a deadly West Virginia mine explosion.

Following Blankenship’s third-place finish, McConnell’s team fired back Tuesday night. The Team Mitch Twitter account, the “Official account of Mitch McConnell for Senate,” posted a meme following the election results. “Thanks for playing, Don,” the text said before tagging Blankenship.

The image appears to be a doctored promotional image from the Netflix drug lord series “Narcos.” The campaign’s meme superimposed McConnell’s face onto the figure of Pablo Escobar covered in white powder. The Hill’s Will Sommer found the relevant promo.

The campaign’s meme was apparently a reference to “Cocaine Mitch,” the nickname Blankenship tossed at McConnell in a bizarre attack ad released in the final days of the campaign. The Blankenship spot also took swipes at the “China people” behind the senator, a reference to McConnell’s wife’s family.

“His father-in-law who founded and owns a large Chinese shipping company has given Mitch and his wife millions of dollars over the years,” the Blankenship campaign alleged in a news release defending the ad last week. “The company was implicated recently in smuggling cocaine from Colombia to Europe, hidden aboard a company ship carrying foreign coal was $7 million dollars of cocaine and that is why we’ve deemed him ‘Cocaine Mitch.’ ”

Humorous trolling from McConnell, or at least from his account, was an immediate hit on Twitter. “When Don goes low, Mitch gets high,” one poster quipped.

“[T]his is the first funny thing a conservative has ever made,” another wrote.

The image from the McConnell camp even drew a reaction from the source. The “Narcos” verified Twitter account retweeted the message to Blankenship. “Low blow, Mitch.”

More from Morning Mix:

While apparently jumping on her bed, a 6-year-old girl falls out of a window and dies, authorities say

‘He’s good looking but the Devil’s good looking, too’: Shawn Grate, Ohio serial killer, convicted of murder