Blankenship, who is positioning himself as the anti-establishment candidate, released the ad with just over a week to go before the Republican primary, on May 8.
And yet there Blankenship was Tuesday night, one week before the primary, on stage debating two other main candidates: state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, deemed by some as a carpetbagger from New Jersey; and U.S. congressman Evan Jenkins, a onetime Democrat who, along with much of West Virginia, turned Republican.
Asked at the debate about how he would get along with McConnell given the animus, Blankenship reiterated: "He has conflicts of interest in China".More news: Hawaii legislature passes ban on sunscreen that kills coral reefs
Three Republicans qualified: Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors; Nick Freitas, a state delegate; and E.W. Jackson, a minister. How can West Virginians trust Evan Jenkins to stand up for their conservative values when he's fighting the Trump administration and fighting to keep Obama's EPA regulations? Joe Donnelly in the fall election toward helping Republicans keep their narrow Senate majority.
The attorney general, who faces Jenkins in a six-candidate primary before potentially running against Democratic incumbent Sen.
"One of my goals as USA senator will be to ditch Cocaine Mitch", he says toward the end of the ad.
As political reporters figured out, and as Blankenship's campaign confirmed in a statement on the ad, this is an allusion to a 2014 report in The Nation (an unusual source of material for a right-wing GOP campaign) alleging that cocaine was found in a ship owned by McConnell's father-in-law, the Taiwanese-American shipping agent James Chao.More news: Japanese PM Shinzo Abe meets Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah
The president excluded Blankenship from a recent West Virginia stop, where Trump appeared with Jenkins on one side and Morrisey on the other.
Blankenship's campaign on Tuesday explained the reasoning behind its nickname for McConnell.
So that's why Blankenship calls him "cocaine Mitch".
Weeks earlier, Blankenship criticized McConnell's father-in-law in race-baiting terms: "I have an issue when the father-in-law is a wealthy Chinaperson and there's a lot of connections to some of the brass". It wasn't Blankenship who was responsible - an unnamed "they" were. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court last October left in place his conviction when the justices declined to take up his case.More news: Xiaomi to launch IPO, submits filing to Hong Kong exchange
"They sent me to prison for a misdemeanor", he said. "Don Blankenship all the way". And then put me in prison.