May 11, 2014
I write in response to Ron Gregory’s latest opinion piece regarding public transparency issues in Logan and Mingo counties, what the future may hold for Senator Joe Manchin III, and whether the legislature will seek to override Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s abortion bill veto — particularly in response to the middle part of the column. While, as usual, some good points of argument are made, I respectfully disagree with two of his speculative ideas regarding Sen. Manchin.
First, Mr. Gregory asserts that Sen. Manchin will not run to return to the governor’s office in 2016 because Sen. Manchin has seemingly made it to the big leagues. Mr. Gregory, however, seems to abandon the elements that put the Manchin-for-governor idea into our heads. A few times now, Sen. Manchin himself as well as his staff have said that he is “absolutely interested” in running for governor in 2016 and that it is currently under consideration. While the U.S. Senate is without dispute the bigger ballpark between these two, Sen. Manchin simply has no reason to shake the field other than his own legitimate interest. Moreover, I have a couple people of my own in Sen. Manchin’s Charleston and D.C. offices who say the senator is growing increasingly frustrated with Washington and has openly discussed the potential move back to the Governor’s Mansion.
Second, Mr. Gregory offers that Sen. Manchin might even be considered as a potential running mate for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016. It is an entertaining idea for a few reasons: Sen. Manchin’s conservative tendencies could be great for Democrats in the swing states in 2016, and Sen. Manchin’s national profile is already established as one of the most talked-about senators after less than four years in the senate and after his national Democratic Governor’s Association chairmanship. His name has even been tossed around as someone to consider as a VP candidate.
But it is not going to happen with Secretary Clinton in 2016. For all of those good reasons above, a Clinton-Manchin ticket would probably hurt Democrats more than help them. Secretary Clinton, known for being more moderate than most of the other 2016 contenders on the Democratic side, is already fearful of a possible primary challenge from the left if she were to run. This would cause her to have to run to the left for her party’s nomination, and slapping Sen. Manchin on the ticket in the summer would just confuse the base. If Secretary Clinton does not have to run to her left, a moderate Clinton-Manchin duo could frustrate liberals and lower November turnout, helping the Republican ground game greatly.
Nonetheless, how the cards would play on either of these issues is out for at least another year and a half. Until then, I look forward to Mr. Gregory’s next column.
TOMMY D. G. FERRELL
Department of Political Science