Joe and the Challenge of 2012

Sen. Joe Manchin is defending his loyalty as a Democrat in an op ed appearing in the Sunday Gazette-Mail.  It all started when he told the National Journal he was uncertain who he would vote for as President in November.    

There is no doubt Sen. Manchin is a Democrat.  It appears as he discusses his votes in the United State Senate and taking on the President he is doing what many West Virginia Democrats started doing in 1996.  That was voting for what is best for West Virginia not just their party. 

I have always believed when Democrats voted for Governor Cecil Underwood that year they started putting the State ahead of party.  I thought it was confirmed when George W. Bush became the first non-incumbent Republican in 70 years to win WV.  It took a lot of registered Democrats to accomplish that feat and again in 2004 & 2008.

However, after the Manchin news broke a prominent lifelong Democrat contacted me saying “Joe’s distancing himself from his President reinforced his reputation as a DINO (Democrat In Name Only) and wimp.”  Further, the negative reaction was much stronger than he would have thought possible and it was coming from liberals, moderates and others.

That assessment was confirmed as Manchin felt compelled to host a call of Democrat County Chairs and State Committee members.  Reports are that Party Executive Director Derek Scarbro compared it to a big family airing their differences.

Despite the belief no one believes Obama is going to win West Virginia, Republicans take it at their own peril to believe so.  The fact the ever popular Manchin had to convene his party’s leaders in an attempt to calm them is a signal they are prepared to battle for Obama’s success and that of their other candidates in November.

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