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Sen. Joe Manchin: One of us, but also one for the nation

From The Exponent Telegram:

We have to chuckle when out-of-state groups launch attacks on West Virginia or West Virginians. They really don’t know us. If they did, they might find that they really like us.

That’s what comes to mind now that several “progressive” groups have targeted Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., because they think he’s too friendly with President Donald Trump.

One group claims to have amassed 225,000 signatures (via online, so who knows whether it’s true or not) to have Manchin removed from Senate Democratic leadership. Others have said they will help to find a more “progressive” candidate to challenge Manchin in the 2018 Democratic primary.

First, let’s make sure everyone understands something: Progressive means liberal, often to uber levels.

And last time we checked, West Virginia isn’t a very liberal state. In fact, residents supported Trump by more than 40 percentage points in the presidential election and elected a majority of Republicans to statewide positions. Republicans also control both chambers of the state Legislature.

So Democrats in other parts of the U.S. want to challenge Manchin with a more liberal candidate? The Democratic Party would do well to support Manchin against what is promising to be a heated general election campaign in 2018.

But you know, we don’t think Manchin is worried about the “progressives” or the conservatives. We think he is focused on helping West Virginia.

And with a Republican president and Republicans controlling both the U.S. House and Senate, he’s using real statesman-like qualities to try to find common ground.

The reason Manchin is being criticized by some Democrats is because he was considered for a Cabinet position by President Trump. And since then, he’s supported several of Trump’s Cabinet selections, including former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, as attorney general, and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, as head of the EPA.

Both were viewed as controversial selections by some Democrats and, perhaps, by some Republicans. It’s not the first time a president’s Cabinet selections have caused a stir; it won’t be the last.

But Manchin is a seasoned legislator, and a former chief executive, both in business and government (as governor of West Virginia). He knows the importance of a good leader having his team in place, and when he weighed all the factors, he supported Trump on those Cabinet selections.

But Manchin hasn’t been a rubber stamp. And when he had significant philosophical differences or other concerns with Cabinet nominees, he voted against them.

Manchin has shown he is neither a guaranteed Trump supporter nor a Democrat ready to simply toe the party line. He’s a free thinker, one who’s willing to stand on principle and to sometimes stand alone, if that’s what he thinks is best for West Virginia.

Is Joe Manchin perfect? He’d be the first one to laugh at that suggestion. And when given the chance, he’d point out the mistakes he’s made over his years of service to West Virginia and this country.

But what Manchin wouldn’t do is spend much time on his accomplishments — not because there aren’t many, but because he’s spending more time looking at what needs to happen next to make his state — and his country — better.

There is no question Sen. Joe Manchin has angered some folks, even some here in the Mountain State. Despite being a gun advocate, he was willing to look at ways to limit gun ownership if it meant better protecting children after the Sandy Hook shootings. That earned him some disdain here at home.

And we’re sure there are some diehard Democrats who don’t like his support of President Trump.

But as the new political scene unfolds and efforts are made both in-state and across the country to spark the economy, we know one thing is certain: Sen. Joe Manchin will stand for what he thinks is best for West Virginia and the nation. He will listen to residents’ concerns and do what he thinks is best for the majority of residents of this state and nation.

To us, that’s the mark of a great statesman.

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