Republicans Courting Manchin Party Switch
Republicans are making some big promises to try to lure West Virginia Senator-elect Joe Manchin to cross the aisle.
“Republicans are making some big promises to try to lure West Virginia Senator-elect Joe Manchin to cross the aisle,” Chris Stirewalt reports for Fox News.
Aside from his pick of committee assignments (likely the Energy and Natural Resources Committee), Manchin might get support for one of his pet projects – a plant to convert coal to diesel fuel that has stalled under Democratic leadership in Washington. It’s one of Manchin’s pet projects and could mean big money for the state’s coal producers. “Republicans believe in an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy,” one top Senate aide told Power Play. “And coal-to-diesel could certainly be part of that.” Manchin’s switch could mean Republican support for not just $1 billion in seed money for the project but also a deal, much sought in coal country, to require the armed forces to use converted coal for fuel.
Republicans believe Manchin is particularly susceptible to the overture because he is up for reelection in 2012 and will have to be on the ticket with President Obama, who is direly unpopular in West Virginia. Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Independent Joe Lieberman are the other two prime targets of Republican advances. If Manchin, Nelson and Lieberman switched, it would leave the Senate in a 50-50 deadlock.
But Team Manchin, so far, is sticking with the campaign line that the two-term conservative governor is heading to Washington to change the way his party operates and to look for chances to work on bipartisan projects. “He was elected as a Democrat and he has to go to Washington as a Democrat to try, in good faith, to make the changes in the party he campaigned on,” said one Manchin advisor. “Now, if that doesn’t work and Democrats aren’t receptive, I don’t know what possibilities that leaves open.”
While I certainly don’t blame the Republicans for trying, a party switch on Manchin’s part would be unseemly at best. His state’s voters just elected him as a Democrat, in what was a Republican wave election nationally.
In my ideal world, all politicians contemplating a switch would hold themselves to the Phil Gramm standard and resign their seats and run for re-election as a member of the other party. But, failing that, some switches are more forgivable than others. While I’ve never been a big Richard Shelby fan, his switch to the GOP in the immediate aftermath of the 1994 Republican landslide was defensible. It not only put him in the majority — and thus able to do more good for his Alabama constituents — but he could legitimately argue that
the GOP sweep of the non-rigged districts in that year’s House elections demonstrated that the state had completed a conversion to the Republican Party.
via Taegan Goddard