April 22, 2015

Manchin decision to stay in Senate good for state, nation | Preston County News and Journal

The biggest guessing game in West Virginia politics has finally come to a screeching halt. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. on Sunday announced his decision to continue serving in the nation’s capital and not run for governor in 2016.

On the CBS Sunday morning news program, “Face the Nation,” Manchin told host Bob Schieffer, “I’m going to stay and I’ll run for re-election.”

Speculation on the current senator and former governor’s run had created an almost frenzied reaction from many political hopefuls, as well as the surging state Republican Party which, at one point, persuaded the Legislative leadership to curtail the governor’s appointment power, but a bill to mandate a special election died without advancing. The move, which Republicans could revive during the 2016 legislative session, was viewed by Democrats as an overt attempt by the GOP to prepare for the prospect of a Manchin run for governor. Manchin, who held the governorship before he won a special election to the Senate in 2010, was elected to a full Senate term in 2012 following the death of longtime U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

Manchin, one of the few centrist members in Congress, has openly criticized the divisive environment in Washington. He has worked hard to build bridges with both his Republican and Democratic colleagues and, over the last few years, has had some success. But according to the popular West Virginia senator, he admits the political gridlock in D.C. has loosened, which is one of the reasons he is staying.

Is this good news or bad news for West Virginia?

One the one hand, our nation clearly needs a centrist in Washington. Both houses of Congress have been unable to enact legislation that can truly make a difference for all Americans. And the obvious disconnect with President Barack Obama has made the situation intolerable to many. But Manchin has emerged as a voice of reason heard over the gray noise in the Senate.

When the Republican Party won big in November, taking control of the Senate away from the Democrats, Manchin, West Virginia’s lone Democrat in Washington, found a way to squeeze lemonade out of the his minority status. Politico magazine, an online and printed political report on Washington and national politics, reported recently that Manchin has often invited senators from both parties to a boat parked on the Potomac River where he lives when he’s in Washington. Some would even say the 67-year-old Manchin is one of the Senate’s more popular members.

One the other hand, West Virginia needs a strong leader in Charleston who is willing and interested in working with both sides of the aisle in the Legislature. His track record as governor was known for doing just that. The recent legislative Session ended with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoing 32 bills. Some might say this is leadership, but others would agree it is an example of how disconnected the executive and legislative branches of government in West Virginia truly are.

Staying in Washington is the more common-sense choice for Manchin and West Virginia. His success in the Senate will ultimately reflect well on the Mountain State, and we at the Preston County News & Journal believe it is the correct move.

By:  John Dahlia, Editorial