Maybe it’s a good thing and maybe it’s not, but Senator Joe Manchin doesn’t seem, at least on paper, to be playing favorites, given the choices he has made throughout his political career. He is described by many as a square peg in a round hole; the West Virginia native has never played linear politics.
As a politician with Democratic credentials, Manchin has been called up and criticized countless occasions by colleagues and Americans on the left for standing behind the Republicans on certain controversial issues in the past, including abortion, gun violence, and even electoral decisions.
His perhaps worst criticism came when he developed a relationship with President Donald Trump and even voted for his candidate for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. To be fair, Joe has also voted against the Republicans on many occasions, including her bid to appoint Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and Trump’s bid to abolish Obamacare. One thing is clear, Manchin, who has been described as a superior Democrat, seems to be pursuing a true two-party system and voting according to his conscience rather than party lines.
The senator served as governor of West Virginia from 2004 until two years after his second term in office, before resigning to take over the Senate seat vacated by the death of Senator Robert Byrd.
The life and career of Joe Manchin was truly an interesting rollercoaster ride. So who is Joe Manchin really? Here are a few things you should know about the Blue Dog Democrat
5 Facts You Need To Know About The Senator
Joe Manchin inherited a political legacy
Manchin was born in 1947 in the coal mining town of Farmington and is a third-generation politician. As he grew up, he saw his grandfather Joseph and his father John serve as mayors of Farmington. He also has an uncle, A. J. Manchin, who served in the West Virginia House of Delegates and later as Secretary of State.
Early in his life, it seemed that Joe Manchin was about to take a different path. He played soccer in high school and received a soccer scholarship to study business administration at the University of West Virginia. However, it was not to be because he suffered an injury at the institution that ended his career, and after graduation, he returned home to help out in his father’s carpet and furniture business.
The political error finally caught up with him in 1982 when he was elected a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. He was 35 years old at the time and has not looked back since.
He has almost never had a break since his foray into politics
Senator Manchin has worked hard almost every year since 1982. After his time as a member of the House of Delegates ended on December 1, 1984, he took a two-year break and returned exactly two years later, on December 1, 1986, as a member of the West Virginia Senate.
He served in this political capacity for 10 years, culminating on December 1, 1996, with a five-year, albeit unplanned, interruption. He ran for the state governor’s seat but found himself second only to Charlotte Pritt in the Democratic primaries. Four years later he was elected Secretary of State for West Virginia.
Joe Manchin’s part in his victory in the 2004 gubernatorial election became easier when incumbent Bob Wise decided not to run for reelection because of scandals surrounding him. Joe Manchin won with a landslide victory, a feat he repeated in 2008 against Republican candidate Russ Weeks.
Due to the passing of the incumbent U.S. Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd, Manchin became his successor in the U.S. Senate in 2010, representing the remaining term of Robert Byrd’s office. He then ran for re-election for his first full term and won.
He is as centrist a politician as there will ever be
It was always clear that the senior senator from West Virginia does not play party politics. In fact, he has often opposed his party in ways that shock even those from a Republican perspective.
In early 2018, a study was published in some surveys, news, and data collection publications that showed that the Democrats have unnaturally strong conservative tendencies. According to a study by Congressional Quarterly, the Senator had voted in line with Trump’s decisions in 71 percent of cases. Five years earlier, the National Journal had rated Manchin conservative with 55 percent and liberal with 46 percent.
Manchin firmly believes that he should stretch across the aisle and work with everyone and anything, regardless of which party they belong to. He proved this when, after his election to the United States Senate, he personally visited each of his 99 fellow Senators to establish a relationship with each of them.
He was alleged to have gotten his daughter an MBA in an unethical manner
Heather Bresch, the eldest daughter of Joe Manchin and his wife Gayle, received an MBA from West Virginia University in 2007. This qualification qualified her to be recruited by Mylan Inc. to fill the position of Chief Operations Officer. However, the company, the university, and the senator all landed in hot water when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a paper suggesting that the university had tampered with her transcript and altered some of her grades to make the award possible.
It did not help that the then president of the university, Mike Garrison, was a personal friend of Senator Joe Manchin. The MBA controversy culminated in the institution having to relieve Garrison of his duties along with the Dean of the Business School. The scandal almost cost the school its integrity, status, and credibility as a top academic institution. Of course, Joe and his wife Gayle repeatedly rejected the accusations as false, but the award was withdrawn, even though the generic pharmaceutical giant Mylan Inc. refused to let Heather leave the company and kept her in her position as COO.
Joe Manchin did not support Obama’s bid for Presidency
The Senator did a lot to upset the democratic attitude of the Senate and the entire left. Among his apparent atrocities is that he voted against state funding for planned parenthood in 2015, although he would change his stance in 2017. He is also strongly opposed to abortion of pregnancies up to 20 weeks old. Manchin is an advocate of arms control and has worked with Republicans to introduce strict restrictions on arms sales. A native of Farmington, he was also opposed to the largely Democratic-led government that closed in January 2018 and even threatened not to run for re-election unless his party put an end to it. He was also the only Democratic Party senator to vote “yes” to the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court candidate, Brett Kavanaugh.
All this and more has often brought him into conflict with members of his party, but one of the most decisive was his opposition to Obama’s candidacy during his candidacy for re-election as president. Joe said he was in considerable opposition to the then incumbent president, especially when it came to his views on economic and energy policy. To be fair, he also showed no support for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, whom he feared did not understand the struggle of real Americans at the grassroots level.