PARKERSBURG, W.Va.– U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin says the next two years will determine if he seeks re-election to the U.S. Senate or returns to West Virginia to run for governor.
Manchin, D-W.Va., will be the only Democrat in the West Virginia congressional delegation because the Republican landslide on Tuesday and had expressed frustration with the national Democratic Party leadership.
Tuesday’s elections nationwide saw many long-term Democrats lose to Republican opponents and the GOP take majority control of the U.S. Senate. Manchin said many of those losses were due to public anger over the actions and policies of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
But Manchin said he also worries Republicans will make the same mistakes as Democrats, using majority control to block ideas and avoid compromise.
“The Republicans have a chance to have tremendous input. I’m going to work with them in every way possible,” he said. “I hope the Republicans don’t go back to the extreme right the same way the Democrats went to the extreme left.”
Manchin, who was governor of West Virginia from 2005-10, said the next two years will determine whether he remains at the national level or returns to seek office in West Virginia. Manchin already has talked about the possibility of running for West Virginia governor in 2016.
“There is definitely that consideration,” he said. “If I don’t see the opportunities to really help my country and my state, and things just stay the same and we continue to hear the rhetoric, if it’s the same-old same-old, it’s not a place I’d desire to be.
“If there is an opportunity in West Virginia and the people would want me to come back home, I would definitely consider that move,” he said.
Manchin would be returning to a different West Virginia than the one he left when he became a senator in 2010. The state Legislature’s more than 80 years of Democrat Party control came to an end Tuesday when Republicans gained a majority in the House of Delegates and tied with Democrats 17-17 in the Senate. The day after the election Republicans gained a majority in the Senate when a Democrat switched parties.
But Manchin was quick to say a Republican majority in the state Legislature would not be an issue if he ran for governor.
“Not at all, not for the governorship,” Manchin said. “The Republicans all could work very well with me when I was governor. I treated them the same when they were in the minority as I would while they’re in the majority.”
Manchin said he already believes the U.S. Senate Republican majority will benefit West Virginia in one key area: the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I think we will be able to address some of the concerns with the EPA regulating things that haven’t been addressed legislatively yet,” he said.
Officials have voiced concerns over the EPA and Obama’s energy policies which critics say over-regulate the coal and power industry and unfairly target states, such as West Virginia, whose economies are heavily dependent on those industries. Under Republican leadership, Manchin said he believes those concerns may be addressed more directly.
“I think we can stop that overreach,” he said. “I think we can develop an energy policy which works not only for West Virginia but all of America.”