Monthly Archives: November 2022

The Manchin Ask

(I spent the entire day writing a test. Yesterday I was at school working the entire day. In short, no, I haven’t finished one of four different pieces in draft mode. If you want my thoughts on the education aspects of the midterms, here’s some tweets. This is something I’ve been wondering about and could write up in a couple hours.)

Back in 2020, I wrote:

One last election thought, on the Senate: if the Dems tie  the Senate–or even if they don’t–Mitch McConnell should have a heart to heart with Joe Manchin and Jon Tester. Both of them will face endless attacks by their own party if they don’t go woke. And neither of them is woke. Both probably want to be re-elected, which will be increasingly difficult if the Democrats win the Senate. McConnell could probably promise them various committee chairs, right?

Everyone remembers that Jim Jeffords switched parties. But fewer people remember that Richard Shelby, senior senator from Alabama, did it back in 1994. He’s still around. [leaving this January.]

I was mildly perplexed at the time that no one else mentioned this idea, and unduly cheered to read more recently that John Thune made an offer:

In their book “This Will Not Pass,” a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, Martin and Burns report [that back in early 2021] Thune pitched Manchin on the idea of not formally joining the GOP, but instead becoming an Independent and caucusing with Republicans.

Manchin was not sold on the idea, according to the book, because he did not want to make Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell the Senate majority leader again.

Well, that was kept under wraps, wasn’t it? Probably a coincidence that an number of Republicans are suggesting that they  postpone a leadership vote to see if everyone wants to give McConnell another shot. 

I wonder why the GOP was so quiet about their offer. I’m also wondering why they wouldn’t offer again, very loudly. Winning the house will stop Dem insanity, but it’s a narrow result. Sharing control in the Senate–or winning outright control–is better than the minority, surely.

 Manchin’s Senate term ends in two years. His choices are run to hold his Senate job, run for governor, run for president (I mean hell, he’s a young ‘un), retire. He doesn’t seem to like his current job, although reportedly told donors he’ll run for re-elecction.  His old job as the Democrat governor in a Republican state might hold more appeal. I only included the presidency to be thorough: he can’t realistically run for President as a Democrat and he doesn’t need the money or the career boost.

If Manchin genuinely wants to retire, then the GOP has no leverage. But in any other case, McConnell or Thune or Rick Scott should make the formal offer: caucus with their party either as a member or as an independent. No complaints, no demands. Promise and pinky swear to be much more respectful of his independence than those snotty entitled Democrats. They’d probably have to promise not to primary him, right? Or something along those lines.

If Manchin really does want to represent his voters and their interests, he should take the offer.  He has steadfastly denied any intention of doing this, of course, and may reject such an offer again.

Fine. Just make sure everyone knows it.

I can’t think of a single reason why the Republicans aren’t better off publicly making the offer. West Virginia voters deserve the opportunity to lobby their senator to represent their interests in a party more to their liking. And if he still rejects the offer, why, he’s the reason Democrats either have a majority or the controlling tie, depending on the Walker-Warnock outcome. A state that gave Trump nearly 70% of the vote won’t forget that. 

Party control aside, the Manchin ask forces him to choose between increased or decreased popularity at home. If Manchin rejects the deal, Republicans have reduced the risk, however, slight, of him winning the state as a Democrat ever again.  They have nothing to lose. Stick the shiv in and make a public offer. 

That’s my thinking, anyway. I’d love to know of any practical reason this isn’t an obvious step for Republicans. Sing me no songs of Manchin’s ethics. That’s his bag. I get it. But there’s no reason for the GOP to care about that, particularly after Manchin signed off on the “infrastructure” deal. 

(In 2020, I actually thought Tester was a better prospect than Manchin–younger, with more to lose. But the last two years he’s been a more reliable Dem vote than Manchin, and isn’t as popular in his state. If he wants to retire, sticking with Democrats is probably the best bet.


and…WAY under 1000!)