Readers of the Wall Street Journal opinion page on the Friday preceding the election saw West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin showcased as a new breed of Capitol Hill Democrat running to the right of the president. Respected Potomac Watch columnist Kimberly Strassel wrote how Democratic candidates like Manchin, Montana’s Jon Tester, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and Nebraska’s Bob Kerry may have previously “provoked outrage from fellow Democrats” for their independence, but the political establishment now recognizes this is the politics on which voters now insist. Manchin’s 2010 election to the Senate and this most recent win are proof of that.
Which brings us to where Manchin will carve his political niche now that he has a renewed lease on a suite in the Senate Office Building. On a statewide radio interview the morning following his re-election, Manchin extended the olive branch to the re-elected President to come hear first-hand the concerns of West Virginians. Manchin will try to build consensus on budget issues and help fortify national security with a strong military, giving thoughtful consideration to advanced weapons programs like the F-35 jet fighter, a project to thoroughly modernize the U.S. fleet serving the Navy, Air Force and Marines.
That statesmanlike approach to the future will bode well for Manchin and his fellow Democrats who have run from the right and won. With the emotional pitch of the election behind us, it will be interesting to follow.
Frank S. Hewes