Why is Joe Manchin?
As a Democrat from a staunchly Republican state, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is a vanishing breed, not only in contemporary American politics, but in a Democratic Party that is steadily tacking to the left.
The senator from the Mountain State has tied his party in knots this year with an insistence on bipartisanship with Republicans who have zero interest in bipartisanship, snarling President Joe Biden’s sweeping attempt to remake the post-pandemic economy.
In the ways that matter, Manchin’s voters are former President Donald Trump’s voters: mainly working-class whites without a four-year college degree. The goals of progressives, therefore, simply are not his.
And with his announced opposition to a landmark voting rights bill that’s a critical bulwark to Republican voter suppression efforts, an opposition that endured even after an appeal from civil rights leaders, it only seems reasonable to ask how long it’ll be before Manchin flees the Senate Democratic conference entirely and becomes a Republican.
Writing in the pages of The Washington Post this week, the conservative columnist Marc Thiessen raised just such a possibility, arguing that if Trump really wants to stick it to Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, he should call Manchin and persuade him to flip.
That would hand the GOP the majority in the Senate, and bring Biden’s and the Democrats’ agenda to a permanent standstill.
“How many times has Manchin been asked if he is really, absolutely, 100 percent sure he would never vote to eliminate the filibuster? As a Republican, he would never be asked that question again,” Thiessen wrote. “There would be no shock or outrage over his announcement that he will oppose the Democrats’ partisan election bill, because if U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., were majority leader, that bill would never make it to the Senate floor. The same goes for D.C. statehood, court-packing and other far-left priorities that progressives are pushing Manchin to support. Once he switches parties, all that pressure disappears.”
Which means Democrats have but one option: Reconcile themselves the very real possibility that they’re going to lose Manchin to the GOP, and then focus all their firepower on the four states that are considered battlegrounds in 2022: Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Right now, the senate race in Pennsylvania is the one to watch, and the state considered the most likely to flip in 2022, as incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey brings down the curtain on his career in public life.
Because it’s such a hot race, the respective Democratic and Republican primary fields, as of this writing, are enormous, according to a tally by Ballotpedia.