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West Virginia Democrats



We had a good discussion last night over what to do about Joe Manchin. It’s worth noting in context of that conversation that the other statewide elected Democrat, Governor Jim Justice, is the type of Democrat who zeroes out state funding of public television and radio. Half of West Virginia’s public broadcasting comes from the state. What is the upshot of this?

But if state funding is completely eliminated, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the state of West Virginia stand to lose much of those matching funds – hurting our economy even more.

Many of our costs are fixed (programming, tower leases, electricity.) This state cut would translate into layoffs of up to 75 percent of our staff, which would endanger our ability to operate.

These proposed cuts are even more damaging because the Justice Administration did not consult anyone at West Virginia Public Broadcasting for advice. Currently, there is no transition plan for WVPB.

Eliminating all state funding endangers our ability to provide PBS Kids programming to low-income children who need it the most. WVPB’s main PBS channel provide 67 hours per week of educational children’s programming. And the station just launched a new 24/7 PBS Kids Channel.

The elimination of funding also hurts more than 6,000 educators and homeschoolers who depend on videos and curricula on our West Virginia Learning Media website.

This budget also eliminates all funding for WVPB’s Mountain Stage, West Virginia’s calling card to the world. More than 13,000 people attended a Mountain Stage concert in West Virginia last year, leading to more than $1 million in direct economic impact.

What does the Governor’s proposed elimination of all funding for Mountain Stage save? $300,000.

None of which is to say that you can’t try to primary Manchin if you want. But I’d like to see at least the tiniest bit of evidence that West Virginia voters are interested in any candidate who is not a right-winger from either party before we commit resources to it.

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  • With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans.

    • so-in-so

      If they vote with us 1/10th of the time, that is more than a GOP Senator would do.

      There are the fights we need to fight RIGHT NOW, and this probably isn’t one of them.

      • nemdam

        For the record, Joe Manchin votes with the Democrats much more than 1/10th of the time.

        But your point stands independently of Manchin.

        • nemdam

          Also want to add that Manchin said he will oppose Tom Price for HHS secretary. And he embarrassed Trump today by saying Trump told him he was open to supporting the Gang of 8 immigration reform.

          So whatever your criticism of him is, understand he is not a secret Republican or that he can never stand up to Trump.

          • vic rattlehead

            Yeah. I talked to one of my closest friends today (who is from WV, and probably one of 8 or so West Virginians as far to the left as Loomis when he lived there) and I practically had to wipe the spittle off my cheeks when I brought up Manchin. He eventually ended up agreeing that he’s the best we’re gonna get from that state, but man he went off. I almost wish he would move back-that state needs all the progressives it can get, and he’s a pretty photogenic guy with some government experience.

            I flirted with the idea of dealbreakers last night, but in the end I suppose I just needed to vent. It’s nice to see the Dems in apparent lockstep against Price-nice to know the red state Dems see being a Democrat as being more than Republican Lite. Good.

            I will probably even toss him a few bucks (along w some other red state Dems) in 2018. In a Facebook discussion one of my friends from upstate was posting something about Gillibrand and talking about contributing to Gillibrand’s 2018 senate race. I love Gillibrand too, she’s my Senator, but I’m tempted to tell her that her money would be much better spent on Tester or even Manchin. I don’t fear for Gillibrand in 2018, but we really need to help our red state Dems.

            • Abbey Bartlet

              Jfc. This is like the opposite of the thing where people waste their time calling random legislators. Gillibrand is great, I’m happy to have her representing me, but I’m not going to donate or campaign for her.

              • Right. If you want to help progressive Dems in the Senate, it’d at least be more constructive to kick money to someone like Sherrod Brown who’s likely to face a tough re-election campaign.

                • vic rattlehead

                  I think Abbey might have been disagreeing with me and you are actually disagreeing with her? I had trouble parsing the comment.

                  If Gillibrand appears to be in danger I will gladly volunteer for her, but she annihilated Wendy Long last time around (and Schumer annihilated her *again* last November). Gillibrand is great, she is also quite possibly the biggest waste of money on the 2018 Senate map.

                • I read her comment as saying that donating/campaigning for Gillibrand for the Senate is a waste of time, because she’s not in serious danger. Could be wrong though.

                  If she does look to be in danger, then yeah, sure, kick her money/volunteer for her. But that doesn’t seem likely.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  I’ll be more clear: K. Gill is going to slaughter whoever runs against her, and spending money on her reelection is phenomenally wasteful.

                • vic rattlehead

                  Ooh I thought your last sentence was mocking what I said. I am too damn sensitive.

              • Taylor

                Remember when all the polls said that Clinton was a shoe-in for the Presidency?

                I do hope this “Gillebrand is fine, send your resources elsewhere” is not some kind of ratfucking.

                Dems need to learn to walk and fart at the same time.

                • Thlayli

                  This is New York we’re talking about. The last time a Republican won any statewide election was in 2002; the last time a Republican won a Senate election was in 1992. Democratic candidates routinely break the 60% mark, which Gillibrand has done twice.

                  Seriously, she is the last person we need to worry about in 2018.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Remember when all the polls said that Clinton was a shoe-in for the Presidency?

                  Remember when Clinton won the national vote by 2 points and lost the EC by 77,000 votes?

                  Also, no one is talking about polls. We’re talking about the actual votes Gillibrand, Schumer, and Clinton have received.

                  Christ, Cuomo won by 14 points in 2014, and no one even likes him.

                • Abbey is right. Furthermore, national polls were very nearly entirely accurate. State-level polls were substantially less so, and we do need to find a way to deal with that.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  My understanding is that state polls were fine, but by the time post-Comey2 polls showed up it was too late.

                • Ah, yes, that could be correct as well. IIRC, state polls take longer to conduct than national polls, which makes sense because of the difficulty of sampling a smaller population accurately.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  That was of course his intent. If he’d dropped it sooner, WI/MI/PA polls come back sooner, HRC changes her schedule, resources get shifted, etc etc.

                  Traitorous bastard.

                • I don’t doubt that you’re correct, though I also wonder what HRC could have done to change the outcome at that late extent even if better polling had been available immediately, since she campaigned continuously in PA throughout the election and it didn’t stop her from (narrowly) losing the state.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Day-of GOTV, I suspect. And maybe there was some message change that could have been implemented if they’d had more time.

                • I suppose you’re correct. FWIW, I volunteered for Clinton in a heavily Republican part of Florida and her operation here seemed pretty competent, but maybe it wasn’t like that everywhere.

                • so-in-so

                  The other problem was, we knew from the polls that the number of “undecided” voters was larger than normal. They “decided” after Comey’s “coup”.

                  If the press had been focused on Trump’s antics for those two weeks, and made the emails a minor “oh, not THIS again?” moment as it really was, I suspect a different result.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  I think too much time was spent on areas that might have been gettable pre-Comey but weren’t post-Comey.

                  So-in-so, agreed. Voters are clearly eminently susceptible to whatever they’ve heard most recently.

                • Indeed. I suspect that, had Clinton known about the letter in advance, her strategy for the entire campaign would have been substantially different. Which is another reason Comey’s actions are basically treasonous.

                  And it also sounds like swing voters are a bit like the So-Called Ruler of the United States in that respect, sadly.

          • Phil Perspective

            Also want to add that Manchin said he will oppose Tom Price for HHS secretary.

            Except he won’t be able to stop that, plus he voted FOR Sessions.

            • That’s nice. He wouldn’t have been able to stop Sessions either, and he seems to believe voting against Sessions would have hurt his re-election chances. I’d be more mad at him if his vote had made a difference, but as it stands a symbolic vote is less important to me than trying to make sure Dems don’t lose another seat.

              • efgoldman

                I’d be more mad at him if his vote had made a difference, but as it stands a symbolic vote is less important to me

                You mean like Suzie Q and Murkowski voting against DeVos and we all cheered?

              • urd

                It’s this type of bullshit excuse, masquerading as strategic justification, that has helped the democrats slowly lose political power.

                As for the argument that a GOP candidate would be worse…that may be true. But remind me again how running a campaign based on fear worked in the presidential election?

                • I forgot. If we demanded the Democrats vote against every GOP nominee, we’d have 51 votes in the Senate… nope, wait, I just counted. We’d still be three votes short. And surely the voters in the state that went for Manchurian Mobutu by the second largest margin were crying out for MOAR SOCIALISM.

                  Your inability to understand first-grade maths indicates a lot about your comment history here.

                • urd

                  If they had taken such an attitude years ago, it is possible.

                  MOAR SOCIALISM

                  Where did I say anything about socialism?

                  Regardless of what you would like to believe the democratic strategy has failed. The GOP, even with its horrible attributes, and its shrinking ranks, has slowly become the dominant party. And while part of this is due to “legal” and illegal voter intimidation, it has also happened due to disengagement by those who would normally vote for democratic candidates.

                  Your inability to understand these basic concepts explains a lot about why you resort to insults and hostile comments when faced with statements that don’t conform to your world view.

                • You’ve been consistently saying that the Democrats need to be more rigidly liberal/leftist. You may not have explicitly used the term “socialism”, but nitpicking about that doesn’t eliminate the fact that, in fact, there are plenty of voters who would not be more persuaded to vote for Democrats running on a more leftist platform.

                  Given that you just dismissed my post as “a bullshit excuse”, your complaints about my tone go straight to the lulztrain. Again, you have consistently been derogatory towards Clinton supporters, and I have only ever been responding in kind. I’ve had plenty of disagreements with people like TJ and Dilan, but they’ve always been civil to me, so I return the favour. Your consistent insults are the reason I have insulted you in turn. If you wish me to stop insulting you, stop insulting people. It’s pretty simple.

                  Disengagement from people who would normally vote for Democrats has also occurred because of people pushing the false equivalency that the two parties have no significant differences. Polling clearly indicates that this was a factor, as does the fact that Clinton’s margin of loss in several crucial swing states would have been made up entirely by either Stein voters voting for Clinton or people who wrote in Sanders voting for Clinton. If you don’t think that people pushing the narrative that Democrats were worthless was a factor in that outcome, I’ve got a bridge in Alaska to sell you.

                  And, again, Clinton faced a primary challenge from the left in the 2016 campaign. How exactly did that work out for us again?

                  There are plenty of places where pushing Democrats to the left won’t be a winning political strategy, and we can’t compare ourselves to the Republicans because we don’t have an infrastructure of billionaires pushing the Overton window and the media to the left. If you can find a way to create one of those, go for it. I’ll be far more open to such arguments then. But there’s an asymmetry that you’re not acknowledging here, and as long as that exists, we can’t hope to duplicate the Republicans’ tactics. (And even if we could, the Democrats’ base isn’t as authoritarian as the Republicans’, so there would still be obstacles for us that Republicans wouldn’t face.)

            • nemdam

              Wait, so now you’re upset at Manchin that his one vote by itself can’t stop Price? And you are also upset that he voted for Sessions even though by your own logic you understand that he couldn’t stop his appointment with his vote alone?

  • gingerandlime

    *raises hand* I’m a West Virginia Democrat. Held my nose and voted for Justice last November even though I knew he was going to be a nightmare. WV progressives are few in number and we have no idea what the hell to do. I am hearing a lot of talk about primarying Manchin but when I look at the 2016 gubernatorial primary (in which justice trounced a federal prosecutor and a longtime state legislator), I don’t have a lot of hope that it would work.

    • cpinva

      it’s (almost) ironic, that WV broke away from VA over secession, which was over slavery. now, WV stands as one of the most racist states in the union. when you also consider that WV doesn’t exactly have a huge number of non-whites, as a % of the total population, republicans are still able to gin up fear of “those” people, getting jobs or government help that, by all rights, should go (only) to the white people of the state. it doesn’t appear that’s going to change anytime soon.

  • Marshall_timbers

    Paging John Cole.

  • AMK

    The choice might be between the public broadcaster and keeping a hospital open, where a Republican in the same position would just shutter both.

    • Davebo

      Like perhaps the John Manchin Sr. Health Care Center?

      Other than a few geriatric care facilities and one psychiatric facility there aren’t a lot of public hospitals in WV.

      • cpinva

        well, since a good % of health issues in WV are either coal or chemical (Dupont) related, why bother having public health facilities? those people should just hurry up and die, helping to reduce the surplus population, and not costing the corporations or the rich anything in the process.

  • wengler

    You don’t get responsive politicians by keeping the shitty ones around. Remember the Tea Party cheering when they knocked off a moderate with a Tea Party psycho that was sure to lose to a Democrat? They knew that in the long term it meant more power for them.

    • They also knew that the electoral system wouldn’t be rigged against them when the next election came around. We have no such guarantee.

      • Ramon A. Clef

        And no one was hurt by their intransigence, either.

    • ExpatJK

      It meant more power nationally, but not necessarily locally. What are the chances of a Delaware Senate seat going GOP?

      As others have said, even in the extremely unlikely event that someone could be found to challenge Manchin, without him there’s basically no Dem Senator from WV, ever. So this could maybe make sense for national Dems, although that argument has been pretty well refuted around here, but it certainly makes no sense for WV Dems.

      • urd

        It meant more power nationally, but not necessarily locally.

        But isn’t national power the end goal? Having local power is a good starting point, but if all you have is that then you’re screwed.

        • It will be almost impossible for us to have national power if we don’t first acquire more local power. For starters, the chances of fair elections are greatly increased by Democrats controlling more state legislatures/governorships, particularly under the Sessions DOJ. Furthermore, building a bench of Democrats at the local/state levels vastly increases the number of people who can credibly run for House/Senate/governor seats. The 2018 map is terrible for us at the Senate level, and gerrymandering makes the House almost completely unattainable unless the GOP suffers a colossal collapse in nationwide support. Meanwhile, getting better representation at the state levels puts us in much better shape for 2020 and the census that can help reduce the gerrymandering that’s fucked us over so much in House races.

          • pseudalicious

            +1,000 — 2018 and 2020 are going to be critical. Getting our side out to vote in 2018, with a horrendous map — we are really going to need to figure this shit out. Otherwise we’ll be fucked for generations.

  • kped

    The problem with people on the left is…too many prefer to battle others on the left instead of focusing on the real target, as it were. When you are losing seats in every state, you are down in the Senate, house and President…and your biggest thing is to kick another democrat out because he only votes with you 75% of the time instead of 100%, you are ensuring more losing in the future.

    If he even votes with you 51% of the time, pick another fucking battle. Wasting your breath on West fucking Virgina is such a “forest for the trees” moment. Which is why it’s such a liberal/left battle to engage in.

    • Right. You simply aren’t going to get a better senator out of WV, at least with its current electorate. If you want to focus on offices in WV, look at the House or state races. For that matter, a Dem who votes with us only, say, 20% of the time is still better than a Republican, because at least the Dem will tilt control of the Senate in our favour.

      • kped

        I just looked him up, on “key votes” he’s in the high 50% range with progressives since he was elected, but on all votes, he’s over 70%.

        I ask anyone wanting to primary him – who are you going to get better than that?

        How about, if you care sooooo much about West Virgina, you work on electing these super awesome progressives in the state to local level offices so they can build some sort of reputation instead of picking off a guy who is going to be INFINITELY better than any Republican in the state.

        As much as people hated the blue dogs…they helped pass the stimulus, they helped pass the Affordable Care Act. They helped put in Obama’s judges. And they were all, to a person, better than the Republicans who replaced them. If you think you can get a “better” government by being in a “pure” minority, I laugh at your naivety.

        • Phil Perspective

          As much as people hated the blue dogs…they helped pass the stimulus, they helped pass the Affordable Care Act.

          LOL!! Which ones? Remember Obama having to twist Dennis Kucinich’s arm(probably not that hard as Kucinich would have voted yes anyway .. he was just hoping to make it better) as the last holdout because a shitload of the Blue Dogs wouldn’t even vote for the ACA? I do. I remember, due to CSPAN, the 2009 townhall where Blue Dog Gene Taylor wouldn’t even sell his constituents on the good things the ACA did. So tell me again how the Blue Dogs helped the party. Harry Truman was right. I can’t believe some people here still argue about that.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            the blue dogs helped create a situation where Pelosi and Reid were leaders of *majorities* and could pass legislation. If you can’t see the value of *that*, you should just shoot yourself now and get it over with, because you are too god damn stupid to live

            • nemdam

              No, no, no, if we were in the minority in Congress, but without the dreaded Blue Dogs, then Republicans would’ve voted for the public option.

              And I love the logic that because some of the Blue Dogs did not vote for the ACA, then all of them never vote with the Dems on anything.

        • urd

          This approach does miss a key issue: perception. The GOP is seen as being in lockstep on its key issues. Even though they didn’t want Drumpf, their discipline has held.

          Contrast this to the democrats that are currently having issues even getting enough senators to filibuster the supreme court nominee.

          I’m not denying that this isn’t a complicated matter: you want senators to vote in the interests of their constituents, but at times you want them to vote in the national interest, you want them to feel they can be independent, etc. However, currently the perception among many voters, especially those who don’t read sites like this one, is that the Democratic party can’t stand up to the GOP as a united block. While several of the cabinet votes have helped to challenge this image; when you look at the GOP voting pattern I believe DeVos was the only one that didn’t get complete GOP backing.

          • Again: If the Democrats had the numbers to block Trump’s nominees, this might be a useful critique. They don’t, and it isn’t. It doesn’t matter if all 48 Dems vote against Sessions; he’s still getting confirmed unless three Republicans defect. That isn’t happening. The Dems can and should hold firm anywhere they can filibuster or otherwise throw a wrench in the legislative process, but voting unanimously against nominees who can’t be blocked with a filibuster doesn’t accomplish anything except make a small segment of the electorate feel good. This segment is far too small to make a difference in red states. Manchin has been in WV politics for over thirty-five years, and if he thinks a symbolic vote against Sessions would harm his re-election chances, he probably has good reason to think that (backed up, I would suspect, by internal polling). You’re of course free to second-guess the acts of people who have been in politics longer than many of us have been alive, but you’ve yet to provide a single bit of credible evidence for why your opinion on WV politics should be taken more seriously than that of people who have worked successfully in the state’s politics for thirty-five-plus years.

            And as I pointed out below, we can’t duplicate the GOP’s strategy. The GOP has a network of billionaires who fund primary challenges from the right, right-wing media outlets, right-wing think tanks, right-wing faux intellectuals, and so on. Leftists have none of these things. if you can get Warren Buffett or George Soros or some other sympathetic billionaire to start funding efforts to push the Dems to the left, great. Otherwise, it’s a strategy we can’t hope to duplicate, particularly as long as Citizens United remains on the books.

            • urd

              I disagree, it does matter. The democrats need to be able to draw a line in the sand. Yes, you’re right; I am second guessing them. This nation has been on a slow political decline for decades. While there are a few exceptions, on the whole, with this type of track record I see little reason to give them any deference on the matter.

              Yes, in the short term they may lose some seats. Longer term I think they gain.

              I find the hostility toward this concept baffling; didn’t many people here tell the third part types they need to start at the local level and grow upwards? This is the same type of situation. The democrats need to rebuild from the ground up; it will take some time and involve some early loses while they purge the DINOs.

              I’ve never said we should duplicate their strategy. What the democrats need to do is actually prove they believe in the values they like to talk about, but seem loath to actually fight for.

              Feel free to point out how the strategy they are currently pursuing will actually get them majorities in the Congress or Senate. Better to have a plan forward that potentially gains you something, than throwing out the same old, tired approach and expecting something new.

              • We don’t gain anything if we can’t win fucking elections. You know how we start winning elections? By building a bench of people who can credibly run for higher office. How the fuck does focusing on a Senate seat we already have accomplish that goal in the slightest? We already have the seat. There are plenty of seats in WV we don’t have. Primarying Manchin accomplishes jack and shit to that effect: it will not actually increase our representation in Congress, and it will in all likelihood result in his seat being taken over by a Republican. There are, I believe, three House seats in WV occupied by Republicans. Who the fuck is going to credibly primary Manchin when there isn’t even anyone who can jump up from the House to do so? There is no one. Primarying someone who votes with us around 70% of the time is a complete waste of time and resources when we could be devoting the exact same resources to trying to improve our representation in places where we don’t already have representation.

                The Republicans got where they are by focusing intransigently on the state and local levels, by dedicated funding from billionaires who dragged the party to the right, and by consistently working the media. A primary challenge to Manchin accomplishes absolutely none of those things. If it even succeeds in losing him the nomination, the likeliest outcome is that we lose a Senate seat. Trying to recapture House seats occupied by Republicans doesn’t carry that seat, and it builds a bench of people who can credibly run for Senate or other higher offices.

                It’s absolutely astonishing that you identify a significant problem with the Democratic Party, and then completely misapply it to something that won’t help solve it at all. If we’re going to have better Democrats, we’re going to need more Democrats. Wasting resources on a primary challenge that is likely to lose us a seat accomplishes the exact opposite of that goal.

          • John F

            This approach does miss a key issue: perception. The GOP is seen as being in lockstep on its key issues. Even though they didn’t want Drumpf, their discipline has held.

            Contrast this to the democrats that are currently having issues even getting enough senators to filibuster the supreme court nominee.

            Perception and POV, we notice that the Repubs vote in lockstep and Dems don’t- which is a real phenomena, but almost no one else notices that:

            1. Faux News and the rest of the RW media claims the opposite is true, no they don’t give examples, they just assert it- their audience will NEVER challenge it

            2. MSM always insist that both sides do it, if the Repub votes in lockstep, so does the Dem party, if the Dems don’t vote in lockstep, then by golly neither does the GOP- just look at Murkoswki!

    • LeeEsq

      The circular firing squad and intra-party purges are a proud leftist tradition. :) The Democratic Party is a big tent consisting of people who can’t stand the Republicans for a variety of reasons. This means it contains everybody from class/economic type leftists, social justice leftists, technocratic liberals, and many people to the right of all three of the former like Manchin and Justice. This widely diverse coalition needs to work together but has some problems doing so naturally.

      • vic rattlehead

        I am happy to have Manchin in the caucus despite my venting last night.

        But I wonder-I totally get why technocrats like Mark Warner are Democrats. And I get why Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren are Democrats. But I wonder about people like Manchin. Why bother? If you’re to the right of most coalitions in the party why not just be a Republican? I guess you would call them Democrats By Default-i.e. they’re really Republicans but are too turned off by their batshit insanity and hard right turn that they default to the other party. And I’ll take Manchin’s votes when he’s willing to give them but I’m always suspicious of his kind of Democrat.

        • Well, for starters, the Republicans have much more lockstep intransigence than we do. I severely doubt Manchin would be able to win a Senate primary as a Republican. If Charlie Crist, a sitting governor with bipartisan approval, couldn’t win one in Florida in 2010, I don’t think Manchin would have any chance in WV in 2018.

          • vic rattlehead

            Well that’s because of his record isn’t it? I wonder why he didn’t just start out as a Republican to begin with? I suppose realignment wasn’t complete and so it still made sense to be a conservative Democrat in the south.

            If Manchin were 30-40 years younger and just getting his start as a Democrat I’d probably think, “Huh?”

            • Right. There are a lot of people in the South who still identify as Democrats for historical reasons, though most of the really conservative ones have become Republicans by now. However, Manchin isn’t conservative enough for today’s GOP, and I’m sure he knows that.

              Regardless, even if he were getting his start today, I still suspect he’d be too liberal for today’s GOP. WV’s Dem party is well to the right of the national one, but there’s still a pretty big gulf from the state GOP, from my understanding.

              • vic rattlehead

                Regardless, even if he were getting his start today, I still suspect he’d be too liberal for today’s GOP. WV’s Dem party is well to the right of the national one, but there’s still a pretty big gulf from the state GOP, from my understanding.

                I didn’t know this. I really know very little about the state.

                • I mostly only know what people like Cole and JR in WV have said about WV politics, but it sounds like their wingnuts are super wingnutty. Manchin is conservative by national standards but not by WV standards. (Note: I would not classify most of today’s GOP as conservatives; they are too extreme to qualify.)

                • gingerandlime

                  Manchin would be laughed out of the WV Republican party, the three pillars of which seem to be fetuses, guns, and undoing a century’s worth of progress by the labor movement. This is such a fucking weird place. People dress up as Mother Jones at community historical events, then vote to undo protections for workers. They are “West Virginia Proud”….with confederate flags flying in their yards. They say they’re Democrats, but they really believe Obama was fighting a “war on coal.” The opposition yard signs when Manchin was running were solid black with white text: “Manchin = Obama.” In a way it’s kind of a wonder he was elected at all…but then he is a Manchin. Just in my town there is a Manchin medical practice, a Manchin law office, and one of my former state reps (defeated by a wingnut in 2016) was a Manchin.

              • rea

                There are a lot of people in the South who still identify as Democrats for historical reasons

                The history of W Va is a bit different–Unionist during the war; Republican historically.

                • nemdam

                  Not since the New Deal. WV until 2000 only went Republican during the landslides of 1972 and 1984. As recently as 2014, WV had two Democratic Senators. The last time they elected a Republican governor was 1996.

        • rewenzo

          But I wonder about people like Manchin. Why bother? If you’re to the right of most coalitions in the party why not just be a Republican?

          I assume Manchin’s a Democrat because he agrees more with their political platform than that of Republicans. To my knowledge, Manchin:

          (1) Doesn’t think the most important thing in the world is cutting taxes for rich people
          (2) Doesn’t want to cut Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid or Food Stamps or whatever
          (3) Thinks the government has an important role to play in the economy
          (4) Does not think brown people are a threat to the sacred blood of the nation

          These are all positions a Republican cannot hold. So, he’s a Democrat.

        • mongolia

          But I wonder about people like Manchin. Why bother?

          takes a while to get 20+% of the population of a state to change party registration. remember, only 20 years ago clinton easily won the state, and gore lost a close one 16 years ago (~5% less than bush), while in ’12 obama lost by a nearly 2-1 margin, despite the fact that the dem won the senate race and their governor and other senator were dem. and this year, while the dem primary had about 20% greater turnout than the rep one, about 35% of the dem primary voters were planning to vote trump over hrc OR bernie.

          to summarize, as far as i can tell wv would prefer to vote for white power dems > rep > national dems, which you can’t get from the national dem party but *CAN* get from the wv dem party

        • Phil Perspective

          But I wonder about people like Manchin. Why bother? If you’re to the right of most coalitions in the party why not just be a Republican?

          Because of career reasons. When Manchin was starting out, Democrats still ruled WV. So he wasn’t going to get very far being a Puke. Remember Max Baucus? He openly admitted that he only became a Democrat for career reasons. He could run as a GOP and be far down the pecking order. Run as a Democrat at the time and the state bench was thin enough where he could rise up the ranks in no time. He seriously did say that. And then he wonders why people think he’s a craven sell out with no principles.

        • efgoldman

          I’ll take Manchin’s votes when he’s willing to give them but I’m always suspicious of his kind of Democrat.

          Historically since the New Deal WVa was Democratic. It changed more slowly than the traitor states did, but it changed, too. When he first got elected to the leg in 1982, the power structure was still Democratic. Hell, Jay Rockefeller was elected to the senate in the 80s.

        • Dennis Orphen

          The Republican Party is a criminal organization. Some people would like to be in politics without being a criminal. You’re either a Dem (big tent getting bigger) or your a criminal. Full Stop.

        • John F

          But I wonder about people like Manchin. Why bother? If you’re to the right of most coalitions in the party why not just be a Republican?

          because while he’s to the right of most coalitions in the party, he’s even further to the left of all coalitions in the GOP-

          the real question is why he doesn’t he run as an indie

      • cpinva

        “The circular firing squad and intra-party purges are a proud leftist tradition. :)”

        interesting. see, with the republicans, they get 100% by…………………..threatening to primary anyone who doesn’t vote the party’s way. with the tea party, they now threaten them with a batshit crazy person in the primaries. a proud, gun toting nutjob, who talks the crazy tea party talk (while probably raping his daughter), but stands a good chance of winning, because his/her constituents are just as batshit crazy. this scares the shit out of the incumbent republicans, because they know it’s more than just an idle threat. at least 10% of the population, at any given moment in time, is in desperate need of psychological help. it turns out that 10% are mostly republicans, and mostly members of the tea party. unfortunately, democrats, being the more sane of the two groups, don’t have that realistic a primary threat, and therefore can’t keep the party in lockstep, like the republicans do. however, the republicans have the same circular firing squad, they just put real bullets in their guns.

    • vic rattlehead

      I’ve always suspected that Manchin votes against the Dems more than he needs to in order to survive reelection, but after last November I’m not so sure.

    • The Lorax

      Amen. Amen.

    • TVTray

      Correct. Continue battling the Intercept, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Snowden.

      • Given that all three contributed to the problem of faux-leftists believing the two parties are equally bad, this does not strike me as a waste of time.

        • urd

          If you truly believe this, then you are completely enthralled to current system.

          No wonder you are unable to look at alternatives.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            Understanding != enthralled to.

          • Throughout my entire history of commenting on this blog, I’ve been a consistent advocate of killing the first-past-the-post system that locks us into this dilemma with fire, but thanks for playing. Until we eliminate FPTP, we are entirely beholden to Duverger’s Law. Your inability or refusal to understand basic tenets of political science speaks volumes.

  • Davebo

    I’d like to see at least the tiniest bit of evidence that West Virginia voters are interested in any candidate who is not a right-winger from either party before we commit resources to it.

    They aren’t. Short of raising the price of natural gas by 3000% I can’t think of an issue one could push that would change that.

    I’m pretty certain public broadcasting isn’t one.

  • rfm

    I don’t like Manchin, but I honestly want him to run in 2020. No way he makes it out of the primary. Though I also want the field to be huge – at least 10 – so maybe that’s not guaranteed if a bunch of people, including him, hang in. His mere presence could have two positive impacts, the way I see it .

    1) Forcing pietists to rally around left-liberal candidates because, my god, Manchin is in this!
    2) Maybe those conservative registered Democrats in WV and OK who voted for Bernie simply because he wasn’t Clinton will feel more connection with the national party – and the eventual nominee – if they see there’s still a place for them in it.

    I don’t think the party’s much larger left-liberal wing(s) should compromise too much to satisfy conservative registered Dems who probably haven’t voted for a Democrat for president since Clinton, if not Carter. But I do think it’s good strategy and good empathy to find ways to reach them. If that means leaving space for Manchin, I say good, as long as he’s beating Republicans. It would be far worse to abandon WV completely to the GOP or isolate Manchin until he becomes, functionally or literally, just another Republican.

    • kped

      Eh, I think he’d be treated like Webb. Ignored mostly and mocked online for his right leaning views.

      • rfm

        True, but in this scenario he’s mostly there to make a play for WV, OK, and whatever other red states have a whiter registered Democrat voter pool. But given the truth of what you’re saying, odds are good he wouldn’t even last that long unless he understood that and made it his only goal.

        Who knows, maybe he’d even get Freddie de Boer and Michael Tracy excited about the Democratic Party again!

    • cpinva

      “But I do think it’s good strategy and good empathy to find ways to reach them.”

      how so, exactly? those “democrats” are only that for a couple of reasons: social security/medicare-medicade/unions. for the most part, they are racist/xenophobic/misogynistic/homophobic. this trends them more towards the current GOP, than the current Democratic Party. how do you plan to “empathize” with them, to get them more on board with the national Democratic agenda? I really, really, really want to know.

  • rewenzo

    My question with Manchin was why did he feel the need to vote for Sessions? Given that his vote wasn’t necessary for Sessions to be confirmed, why did he feel the need to break party ranks? Would being the 52nd vote to confirm Sessions save him in an election? Would being the 47th vote in a failed bid to block him hurt him? Who cares? Who would care in 2018?

    • My suspicion is that if he had been the deciding vote he would have voted against Sessions. And he’s voted the right way on others. But he really seemed to think voting against Sessions would hurt him locally, and given the quirkiness of WV and the number of issues he’s on the right side for (even gun control) I’m not going to hold it against him. I wish we could make the state bluer, but it is what it is right now.

      • cpinva

        “But he really seemed to think voting against Sessions would hurt him locally”

        given the overall racism in WV, he may well be right in that thinking. voting against Sessions, when it wasn’t going to have any affect on the outcome, might well be used against him in 2018, by a GOP challenger.

      • Dennis Orphen

        What you call suspicion I call fact.

    • busker type

      I don’t think it’s about Sessions in particular, but he can’t be seen as voting down the line the way Schumer tells him too, that would be political suicide, and voting against Price, DeVos and hopefully some others makes a lot of sense because their policies will be a fucking disaster for this extremely poor extremely rural state where public schools are very important as community centers and where (I just did the math) 31% of the population is on Medicaid!

  • Scott Lemieux

    But I am reliably informed that voters with a preference order of Manchin/Justice > Trump > Bernie > Hillary > Obama are unquestionably screaming for MOAR SOCIALISM!

    • mongolia

      the bernie dead-ender gloating after winning the wv primary was one of the more hilarious parts of the dem primary. mostly because we’d point out facts like in this passage:

      Commenting on Sanders’s West Virginia victory, they were quick to point out that a felon running against Obama in the same state in 2012 got nearly half as many votes. They crowed about how some of both Bernie and Clinton’s voters said Trump was their real number one choice, and much was made of how Sanders overwhelmingly won voters who want “less liberal” policies than Obama’s.

      and you’d think “this explains why this result is meaningless – the way wv votes is weird,” but instead sanders’ wv victory was made out to be a meaningful event that was worth writing thousand-word essays about how this PROVES that democrats don’t. even. try. to court working class whites

    • TVTray


    • urd

      But I am reliably informed that voters with a preference order of Manchin/Justice > Trump > Bernie > Hillary > Obama are unquestionably screaming for MOAR SOCIALISM!

      It’s getting harder and harder to take you seriously. Yes, I know coming from me that’s quite rich. But I’m not a front page poster here, just someone in the comments.

      I think you are slowly turning into a caricature of yourself.

  • Fidalgo

    Born and raised in WV.

    Manchin is a liberal for most West. Virginians. The only reason he was elected despite his commie liberal ways is the fact that he is riding on his dad’s legendary political coat tails. His father when he wss Secretary of State came and spoke at just about every darn school in the state. I saw him in grade school, and Jr. High and High School he was a retail politician of AMAZING energy.

    No it doesn’t make any sense, but many West Virginians are willing to overlook Manchin’s lefty ways (actually center right) because of personal feelings.

    I really can’t imagine even a center right clone like Manchin getting elected if he didn’t have the family history on his side.

    WV was only one of 6 states that went for Carter in 1980. Breaks my heart what has happened there since.

    • gingerandlime

      I just said something like this above, but less eloquently and at much greater length. In other words, THIS.

    • one of the blue

      WV also voted for Mike Dukakis in ’88 and Hubert Humphrey in ’68, both times just about the only southern state to do so. This was all due to UMWA influence I think. And the change in the state followed the collapse of the union’s membership base there simultaneous with the passing of many of the older generation of very activist union retirees.

  • LosGatosCA

    Almost heaven, West Virginia.

    Also, too, met the owner of Medical Protective a few decades ago (they provide malpractice insurance) it was a light, social, family event but I remember his pride in saying that they insured doctors in every state except West Virginia. Because all the doctors were drunks or incompetent.

    Also drove down through on 70 a few times and once on 77 from Cleveland down to Columbia.

    And that exhausts my knowledge of West Virginia.

    My understanding from a distance is that Manchin’s WAR is quite high because of the pure evil that would replace him.

  • anonymous


    My question with Manchin was why did he feel the need to vote for Sessions? Given that his vote wasn’t necessary for Sessions to be confirmed, why did he feel the need to break party ranks? Would being the 52nd vote to confirm Sessions save him in an election?

    The issue is as much about voting against Sessions as much as voting for Sessions.

    Why are so many up in arms against Sessions? It is because he has a bad record regarding race and Civil Rights.

    The problem is that WV is very White and very racist. Even amongst the less racist Whites, they just DGAF about racism and think there’s way too much attention to it.

    To vote against Sessions due to racial justice and civil rights simply paints him as some kind of SJW and is way out of touch with the “values” of his White constituency.

  • Morse Code for J

    A few things to note about West Virginia and its state government, before we judge Jim Justice more harshly than we should.

    Republicans have owned both sides of the state legislature since 2014, and in their wake, a self-inflicted budget crisis emerged. They have cut taxes and made up the difference by increasing every fee they can – tuition at state universities, cigarettes, etc. – and stealing from the rainy day funds that Manchin and the Democrats filled up ten years ago. Sure, the governor may propose a budget and veto one he doesn’t like, but his veto may be overcome by a simple majority of both houses.

    I am sorry about WVPB and Mountain Stage, but as long as this crew holds majorities in the state legislature, this pain will linger. And no governor will be able to stop it.

  • jpgray

    What frustrates me to no end about party strategy discussions is the argument from GOP.

    We are not the GOP. Moves available to them are not available to us. Moves that sometimes(!) help them may never help us.

    Don’t be this guy/gal:

    “Imagine if Obama had kids by three women and bragged about his sexual assaults on tape! Imagine if he blithely ordered a horribly botched raid in Yemen on incomplete intelligence! Ha! They’d have the cross and nails out in seconds! Ha. LOL. Good times. Anyway, like I was saying if we only acted like the Tea Party…”

    We have a solid national coalition, but it’s diverse – demographically and ideologically.

    Bringing that down to earth, consider the grandiloquent political bar philosopher, the whackjob who knows “how to fix everything” and wants to tell you all about it. If I tell you it’s a Republican, you know almost exactly what will get slurred out at you: persecuted white Christians and business; scary brown people; an elite omnipotent tyrannous conspiracy of mooching weak-ass disorganized liberals.

    If I tell you it’s a Democrat… you have to know what kind of Democrat, what state the bar is in, gender, drink preference, etc. to have a similar idea of what you’ll hear.

    That’s fine! Our national party would be impossible without that diversity. But it means we can’t run a uniform model of grandiloquent political bar philosopher in every contest. Whereas the GOP can run their universal model and have it become president.

    Bernie kind of tried to be this for us, and the response was often “tell it!” but in a few crucial bars the patrons just went “huh?” and it was all over for him.

  • I utterly disapprove of Machin’s vote for Sessions, and if I thought primarying him in the cause of unified Democratic opposition to white supremacy would do the slightest bit of good for that cause, I would support it. As it is, it’s up to West Virginian Democrats to decide who they want to carry the standard in 2018, so if they want to choose someone else that’s their right, but given what I am hearing about the West Virginia Democratic Party I am doubtful that the resulting replacement for Manchin would be significantly better on this issue.

  • bernard

    Primary Manchin? Why, exactly?

    Look, here is a simple rule. Don’t start a fight you are sure to lose.

    Don’t primary Manchin unless you think whoever you nominate instead has a better chance to win the general election.

    Moral preening doesn’t help anyone.

  • Harkov311

    So, apparently:

    1. Scrap PBS
    2. ????
    3. Coal magically reappears in the ground and becomes profitable and safe to mine again!

  • D.N. Nation

    West Virginia has carried the torch from Ohio as America’s Worst State® and they’re going the distance with it.

    Coal is not coming back. Ever.

    • ΧΤΠΔ

      At least it has John Cole & Bill Withers.

      Also, you neglect Mississippi, Alabama (including the Florida Panhandle, because it really is a piece of shit), Pennsylvania, Texas, Hell’s Retirement Colony Arizona and South Carolina.

  • Paedio

    Is there a progressive in or from WV whom we could trust that could give us anything about Manchin that would be worth keeping him in the Senate?

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      several residents who post here regularly have, in both this thread and the previous W VA thread, said that if there’s a D who can be elected in W VA it’s Manchin. So I guess it depends on whether you want someone who votes with the Ds most of the time or with the Rs all of the time

  • TVTray

    What sort of entities usually spend money on primary challenges to incumbents?

    • urd

      Rich ones?

      I seriously wish the DNC/democrats would pull their heads out of their collective asses and support candidates who really embody the supposed principles of the party. Not just continue to support career politicians or ones they think will win (no matter how odious they are).

      Because right now, the democrats are in the wilderness. The current strategy is not working.

      • How exactly did primarying Clinton from the left work out for us, again?

        We can’t duplicate the Tea Party strategy unless we can find billionaires to fund leftist primary challenges/set up a nationwide leftist media cable network and leftist think tanks/etc. There’s an asymmetry of resources you’re not taking into account here.

  • pseudalicious

    This is a really stupid comment, forgive me:

    So the problem isn’t Manchin, really. The problem is the people of WV. So how do you change the people of WV? I’m serious. How do we make these folks less racist?

    Is there a way to bring voters here things that they need — goods, services, whatever that is — and make sure that the people bringing it are visibly people of color, queer, gender-non-comforming, etc., with a lot of “these are liberal Democrats” branding? Like, associate it in folks’ minds that these people are kind to you and help you out? (Obviously in a way that somehow guarantees the safety of the folks brave enough to be part of the Welcome Wagon.) I realize this sounds stupid as fuck, and privileged as fuck. I’m just throwing ideas out, because I feel like electoral politics is not the way to change this particular problem; we’ve already seen very compelling arguments on why we can’t primary this guy.

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