May 21 (UPI) -- A former coal mine executive who lost West Virginia's Republican Senate primary said Monday he'll run as a third-party candidate, even if the state says he can't.
Don Blankenship said Monday he plans to run as the state's Constitution Party candidate.
Earlier this month, Blankenship lost the state's GOP primary for the seat. Even though Blankenship said during his campaign he is "Trumpier than Trump," President Donald Trump urged voters not to throw away their vote on him because he can't win.
"Like other Constitutionists, I hold in the highest regard the founding principles of the United States Constitution and I am willing to fight to protect both West Virginia and America from all enemies -- foreign and domestic," he said.
West Virginia's "sore loser" law, though, prevents candidates who failed in the primary from re-filing under a third-party for another bid.
The law says such candidates can't "take advantage of the later filing deadlines and have their name on the subsequent general election ballot."
Still, Blankenship told Politico he will challenge the law, if necessary.
"We are confident that, if challenged, our legal position will prevail, absent a politically motivated decision by the courts," he said.
If he succeeds, Blankenship could take away votes from GOP nominee Patrick Morrisey, who's trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin.
Blankenship, a former Massey Energy executive, was sentenced three years ago on a misdemeanor charge for conspiracy to violate federal safety standards involving a 2010 explosion at a West Virginia coal mine that killed 29 workers. He was not tried on charges that accused him of direct responsibility for the deaths, but served a year in prison for the misdemeanor.
Investigators said the mine exploded due to improper ventilation that allowed the gases to accumulate.