Don Blankenship At Center Of Party-Backed Super PAC Primary Fight In West Virginia

Former coal mogul Don Blankenship is at the center of a party-backed, super PAC, Senate primary fight in West Virginia as groups with obscure names and undisclosed donors spend millions.

The proxy fight -- an effort to sway the Republican primary by influencing whether Blankenship makes it onto the ballot in November — has made the Senate bid one of the most expensive races so far this year.

Democrats have rolled out six-figure ads attacking two GOP primary candidates Evan Jenkins and Patrick Morrisey through the Duty and Country super PAC.

The group, led by Robert "Booth" Goodwin, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has spent nearly $1.4 million attacking the two West Virginia Republicans in the past two weeks.

However, the super PAC has avoided any mention of Blankenship, a former Massey Energy executive who spent a year in federal prison for conspiring to violate mine safety regulations related to the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that killed 29.

Goodwin was also the very U.S. attorney that prosecuted Blankenship during the federal trial.

Republican campaign consultant Ford O’Connell said the GOP has learned lessons from the 2012 Missouri Senate race -- they will not sit by idly and watch Democrats meddle in a GOP primary.

Earlier this election cycle, it was thought the rivalry between McConnell-backed Jenkins and Steve Bannon-backed Morrisey would result in an aggressive GOP primary.

O’Connell said Republicans don’t seem too concerned either way as of now, as long as Blankenship doesn’t seize the nomination.

“And they (the Democrats) know that’s the whole key to shutting this site down,” O’Connell said.

Read more from Soo Rin Kim at ABC News 

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