|United States Senator
from West Virginia
November 15, 2010
Serving with Shelley Moore Capito
|Preceded by||Carte Goodwin|
|Chair of the National Governors Association|
July 11, 2010 – November 15, 2010
|Preceded by||Jim Douglas|
|Succeeded by||Christine Gregoire|
|34th Governor of West Virginia|
January 17, 2005 – November 15, 2010
|Preceded by||Bob Wise|
|Succeeded by||Earl Ray Tomblin|
|27th Secretary of State of West Virginia|
January 15, 2001 – January 17, 2005
|Preceded by||Ken Hechler|
|Succeeded by||Betty Ireland|
|Member of the West Virginia Senate
from the 13th district
December 1, 1992 – December 1, 1996
|Preceded by||Bill Sharpe|
|Succeeded by||Roman Prezioso|
|Member of the West Virginia Senate
from the 14th district
December 1, 1986 – December 1, 1992
|Preceded by||Anthony Yanero|
|Succeeded by||Charles Felton|
|Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates
from the 31st district
December 1, 1982 – December 1, 1984
|Preceded by||Clyde See|
|Succeeded by||Duane Southern|
|Born||Joseph Manchin III
August 24, 1947
Farmington, West Virginia, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Gayle Connelly (m. 1967)|
|Children||3 (notably Heather)|
|Education||West Virginia University, Morgantown (BA)|
Joseph Manchin III // (born August 24, 1947) is the senior United States Senator from West Virginia. Manchin, a member of the Democratic Party, served as the 34th Governor of West Virginia from 2005 to 2010 and the Secretary of State of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005.
Manchin has been known throughout his career to be a moderate Democrat, a fact which has allowed him to hold office in West Virginia even as the state shifted from one of the most heavily Democratic in the country to one of the most heavily Republican. He was elected governor by a large margin in 2004 and re-elected with an even larger margin 2008, even though in both years Republican presidential candidates captured the majority of West Virginia's votes. He won the special election in November 2010 to fill the seat of Senator Robert Byrd, the longest serving U.S. Senator in history, who died in office. Manchin was elected to a full term in office with 60 percent of the vote in November 2012. Manchin became the state's senior Senator when Jay Rockefeller retired in 2015.
As a senator, Manchin is known for his bipartisanship, voting or working with Republicans on issues such as abortion and gun ownership. He has opposed the energy policies of President Barack Obama, declined to vote on both the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and the DREAM ACT, voted for removing federal funding from Planned Parenthood in 2015 (but voted to preserve funding for the organization in 2017), and voted to confirm most of Donald Trump's Cabinet appointees. Manchin supported Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. In 2017, he voted against allowing states to divert money away from abortion providers. He has repeatedly voted against attempts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Manchin was born in 1947 in Farmington, West Virginia, a small coal mining town, the second of five children of Mary O. (née Gouzd) and John Manchin. Manchin was derived from "Mancini". His father was of Italian descent and his maternal grandparents were Czechoslovakian immigrants.
His father owned a carpet and furniture store, and his grandfather, Joseph Manchin, owned a grocery store. His father and his grandfather both once served as Mayor of Farmington, West Virginia. His uncle, A.J. Manchin, was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates and was elected as the West Virginia Secretary of State and West Virginia State Treasurer.
Manchin graduated from Farmington High School in 1965. Manchin entered West Virginia University on a football scholarship in 1965; however, an injury during practice ended his football career. He graduated in 1970 with a degree in business administration and later became involved in several family-owned businesses.
Manchin was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1982 at the age of 35 and was elected to the West Virginia Senate in 1986, where he served until 1996. He ran for Governor in 1996, finishing second to Charlotte Pritt among a large group of candidates in the Democratic primary election. He later ran and was elected as Secretary of State of West Virginia in 2000.
Manchin announced his intention to challenge incumbent Democratic Governor, Bob Wise, in the 2004 Democratic primary election in May 2003. Wise decided not to seek re-election after a scandal, and Manchin won the Democratic primary and general election by large margins. His election marked the first time that two people of the same political party followed one another in the West Virginia Governor's office since 1964.
Manchin was a member of the National Governors Association, the Southern Governors' Association, and the Democratic Governors Association. He was also chairman of the Southern States Energy Board, state's chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission and chairman of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission.
In July 2005, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship sued Manchin, alleging that Manchin had violated Blankenship's First Amendment rights by threatening increased government scrutiny of his coal operations due to Blankenship's political activities. Blankenship had donated substantial funds into campaigns to defeat a proposed pension bond amendment and oppose the re-election of state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, and he fought against a proposed increase in the severance tax on extraction of mineral resources. Soon after defeat of the pension bond amendment, the state Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) revoked a permit approval for controversial new silos near Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh County. While area residents had complained for some time that the coal operation there endangered their children, Blankenship claimed that the DEP acted in response to his opposition to the bond amendment.
During the 2006 Sago Mine disaster in early January 2006 in Upshur County, West Virginia, Manchin in appeared to confirm incorrect reports that 12 miners had survived; in actuality only one survived. Manchin later acknowledged that an unintentional miscommunication had occurred with rescue teams within the mine. On February 1, 2006, he ordered a stop to all coal production in West Virginia, pending safety checks, after two more miners were killed in separate accidents. Sixteen West Virginia coal miners died from mining accidents in early 2006. In November 2006, SurveyUSA ranked him as one of the most popular governors in the country with a 74 percent approval rating.
In 2007, a controversy arose after Manchin's daughter, Heather Bresch, claimed to have earned an MBA degree from West Virginia University (WVU). Actually, according to an investigation, the university created a backdated false transcript of courses she had never taken. Manchin placed the blame on WVU. In the wake of the controversy, WVU President Mike Garrison, Garrison's legal counsel and the Dean of the Business School resigned, amongst others. A panel was convened to fully investigate the measure. The issue hurt the credibility of the university, which placed pressure on the board to take action and remedy the situation. She serves as CEO of Mylan Inc., the third largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer in the U.S. with headquarters in Morgantown, adjacent to the WVU campus.
Due to the declining health of U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, speculation focused on what Manchin's response would be if Byrd died. The governor consistently refused to comment on the subject prior to Byrd's death, except for stating that he would not appoint himself to the position. Byrd died on June 28, 2010, and Manchin appointed Carte Goodwin, his 36-year-old legal adviser, on July 16.
On July 20, 2010, Manchin announced he would seek the Senate seat. In the Democratic primary on August 28, he defeated former Democratic Congressman and former West Virginia Secretary of State Ken Hechler. In the general election, he then defeated Republican John Raese.
Manchin chose to stand for reelection to a full term in 2012. According to Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, early polling found Manchin heavily favored, leading congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito 50–39, 2010 opponent John Raese 60–31, and Congressman David McKinley 57–28. Manchin had not endorsed his party's candidate for the 2012 presidential election, saying he has "some real differences" with the presumptive nominees of both the Democrats and the Republicans, finding fault with Obama's economic and energy policies and questioning Romney's understanding of the "challenges facing ordinary people."
Manchin is running for re-election in 2018. He is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Paula Jean Swearengin. Swearengin is an activist and coal miner's daughter who is supported by former members of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Swearengin criticized Manchin for voting with the Republicans and supporting the policies of Donald Trump.
Manchin was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden on November 15, 2010, succeeding interim Senator Carte Goodwin. Manchin named Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis to be his chief of staff. Kofinis was formerly an adviser to Wesley Clark and John Edwards. Before his swearing-in, rumors suggested that the Republican Party was courting Manchin to change parties. Although the Republicans later suggested that Manchin was the source of the rumors, they attempted to convince him again in 2014 after retaking control of the Senate. He again rejected their overtures.
Manchin identifies as pro-life. On August 3, 2015, he broke with Democratic leadership by voting in favor of a Republican-sponsored bill to terminate Federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health services, including abortions, both in the United States and globally.
However, on March 30, 2017, Manchin voted to support abortion rights by voting against H.J.Res. 43. A pending federal regulation would have prevented states from withholding money from abortion providers. H.J.Res. 43, which was signed by President Trump, would have nullified that regulation. In April 2017, Manchin endorsed the continued funding of Planned Parenthood. Also in 2017, Planned Parenthood gave Manchin a rating of 44%.
On June 21, 2011, Manchin delivered a speech on the Senate floor calling for a "substantial and responsible reduction in the United States' military presence in Afghanistan." He said, "We can no longer afford to rebuild Afghanistan and America. We must choose. And I choose America."
Manchin has introduced legislation to reduce the use of overseas service and security contractors. He successfully amended the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act to cap contractors' taxpayer funded salaries at $230,000.
In his first year in office, Manchin met one-on-one with all of his 99 Senate colleagues in an effort to get to know them better.
On December 13, 2010, Manchin participated in the launch of No Labels, a new, nonpartisan organization that is "committed to bringing all sides together to move the nation forward." Manchin is a co-chair of No Labels.
Pat Toomey advocates reducing gun regulations, but in 2013, he worked with Joe Manchin to introduce legislation that would require a background check for most gun sales. The Manchin-Toomey bill was voted on and defeated on April 17, 2013, by a vote of 54–46 because to pass it needed 60.
In 2013, the National Journal gave Senator Manchin a composite score of 55% conservative and 46% liberal. In 2015, the Lugar Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit founded by Senator Richard Lugar released a Bipartisan Index in cooperation with Georgetown University, ranking Senator Manchin the fourth most bipartisan senator in the 114th Congress, and the most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate from the American South. The American Conservative Union has given Manchin a lifetime rating of 28.17% conservative. CrowdPac, which rates politicians based on donations they receive and give, has given Senator Manchin a score of 1.7L with 10L being the most liberal and 10C being the most conservative. The organization Americans for Democratic Action has given him a rating of 60% liberal.
In June 2011, Manchin joined Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in seeking a crackdown on Bitcoin currency transactions, saying that they facilitated illegal drug trade transactions. "The transactions leave no traditional [bank transfer] money trail for investigators to follow, and leave it hard to prove a package recipient knew in advance what was in a shipment," using an "'anonymizing network' known as Tor." One opinion website said the Senators wanted "to disrupt [the] Silk Road drug website."
In May 2012, in an effort to reduce prescription drug abuse, Manchin offered a successful amendment to the Food and Drug Administration re-authorization bill to reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance.
Manchin sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and supports a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy approach that uses coal.
Manchin's first bill in the Senate dealt with what he calls the EPA's overreach. After the EPA vetoed a previously-approved permit for the Spruce Mine in Logan County, West Virginia, Senator Manchin offered the "EPA Fair Play Act."
The bill would "clarify and confirm the authority of the Environment Protection Agency to deny or restrict the use of defined areas as disposal sites for the discharge of dredged or filled material." Manchin said the bill would prevent the agency from "changing its rules on businesses after permits have already been granted."
On November 14, 2011, Manchin chaired his first field hearing of that committee in Charleston, West Virginia, to focus on Marcellus Shale natural gas development and production. Manchin said, "We are literally sitting on top of tremendous potential with the Marcellus shale. We need to work together to chart a path forward in a safe and responsible way that lets us produce energy right here in America."
Manchin supports building the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada. Manchin has said, "It makes so much common sense that you want to buy [oil] off your friends and not your enemies." The pipeline would span over 2,000 miles across the United States.
On November 9, 2011, Manchin introduced the "Fair Compliance Act" with Senator Dan Coats (R-IN). Their bill would "lengthen timelines and establish benchmarks for utilities to comply with two major Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rules. The legislation would extend the compliance deadline for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR, by three years and the deadline for the Utility MACT rule by two years -- setting both to January 1, 2017."
Manchin introduced the "American Alternative Fuels Act" on May 10, 2011, with Senator John Barrasso (R-WY). The bill would remove restrictions to the development of alternative fuels, repeal part of the 2007 energy bill restricting the federal government from buying alternative fuels and encourages the development of algae-based fuels and synthetic natural gas. Regarding the bill, Manchin said, "Our unacceptably high gas prices are hurting not only West Virginians, but all Americans, and they underscore a critical need: the federal government needs to be a partner, not an obstacle, for businesses that can transform our domestic energy resources into gas."
In 2011 Manchin was the only Democratic Senator to support the proposed Energy Tax Prevention Act, which sought to prohibit the United States Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas. Manchin was ranked by the League of Conservation Voters with a 47% rating for 2016 and has a lifetime 44% rating, based on his voting record in office.
Manchin has co-sponsored balanced budget amendments put forth by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Mark Udall (D-CO). He has also voted against raising the federal debt ceiling.
In 2012 Manchin's candidacy was endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), who gave him an "A" rating. Following the Sandy Hook shooting, Manchin partnered with Republican Senator Pat Toomey to introduce a bill that would have strengthened background checks on gun sales. Though the legislation never acquired enough votes to win Senate passage, the NRA targeted him in an attack ad.
Manchin was criticized in 2013 for agreeing to an interview with The Journal in Martinsburg, West Virginia, but demanding that he would not be asked any questions about gun control or the second amendment.
On September 27, 2013, Manchin voted to restore funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as part of an amendment to legislation funding government operations for 45 days, and which also omitted House-passed language prioritizing debt payments if Congress fails to increase the nation’s borrowing limits.
To help locate missing senior citizens, Manchin introduced the Silver Alert Act in July 2011 to create a nationwide network for locating missing adults and senior citizens modeled after the AMBER Alert. Manchin also sponsored the National Yellow Dot Act to create a voluntary program that would alert emergency services personnel responding to car accidents of the availability of personal and medical information on the car's owner.
On October 6, 2010, Manchin directed a lawsuit aimed at overturning new federal rules concerning mountaintop removal mining. Filed by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the lawsuit "accuses U.S. EPA of overstepping its authority and asks the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to throw out the federal agency's new guidelines for issuing Clean Water Act permits for coal mines." In order to qualify for the permits, mining companies need to prove their projects would not cause the concentration of pollutants in the local water to rise 5 times past the normal level. The New York Times reported that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the new legislation would protect 95 percent of aquatic life by banning operators from dumping mine waste into streams.
Manchin has received criticism from environmentalists due to his close family ties to the coal industry. He served as president of Energysystems in the late 1990s before becoming active in politics. On his financial disclosures in 2009 and 2010, his reported earnings from the company were $1,363,916 and $417,255 respectively. Critics have stated his opposition to health regulations that would raise expenses for the industry are due to his stake in the industry; Jim Sconyers, chairman of West Virginia’s Sierra Club chapter stated that "he’s been nothing but a mouthpiece for the coal industry his whole public life." However, opinions on the subject are mixed; The Charleston Gazette noted "the prospect that Manchin’s $1.7 million-plus in recent Enersystems earnings might tilt him even more strongly pro-coal might seem remote, given the deep economic and cultural connections that the industry maintains in West Virginia."
On December 9, 2010, Manchin was the sole Democrat to vote against cloture for the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained a provision to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In an interview with The Associated Press, Manchin cited the advice of retired military chaplains as a basis for his decision to vote against repeal. He also indicated he wanted more time to "hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia." A day later, he was publicly criticized at a gay rights rally for his position on the bill. On December 18, 2010, Manchin was not present for the vote to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and the vote on the DREAM Act, regarding immigration. The National Republican Senatorial Committee criticized Manchin for attending a family Christmas gathering instead of voting on these important issues. The Washington Post reported that he was the only Senate Democrat to miss these votes “on two of his party's signature pieces of legislation.”
As the 2016 elections approached, many reports speculated that Manchin would lose his loyalty to his party and switch to Republican if the Senate was in a 50-50 tie. This is due to him already being conservative-leaning, which many Democrats have criticized him for. However, he later stated that he would stay with the Democratic Party for at least how long he stays in the Senate. Manchin was the only Democrat to vote in confirmation of controversial Trump cabinet appointees Jeff Sessions and Steven Mnuchin, one of two Democrats who voted to confirm Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator, and one of three who voted to confirm Rex Tillerson.
In December 2012, Manchin voiced his displeasure with MTV's new reality show Buckwild, taking place in his home state's capital Charleston, and asked the network's president to cancel the show, due to showcasing West Virginia what he deems a negative, unrealistic light. The show was later ended after one season.
In a lawsuit filed in July 2014, Dr. John Manchin II, one of Joe Manchin's brothers, sued Joe Manchin together with his other brother, Roch Manchin, over a $1.7 million loan. The lawsuit alleges that Joe Manchin and Roch Manchin borrowed the money to keep the doors open at family-owned carpet business run by Roch, that there have never been any payments made on the loan, and the defendants had taken other measures to evade compensating John Manchin II for non-payment. Dr. Manchin withdrew the suit on June 30, 2015.
|West Virginia 31st district House of Delegates Democratic primary election, 1982|
|West Virginia 31st district House of Delegates election, 1982|
|Republican||Edgar Williams, III||5,702||5.9|
|West Virginia 14th district State Senate Democratic primary election, 1986|
|West Virginia 14th district State Senate election, 1986|
|West Virginia 14th district State Senate Democratic primary election, 1988|
|West Virginia 14th district State Senate election, 1988|
|West Virginia 13th district State Senate election, 1992|
|West Virginia gubernatorial Democratic primary election, 1996|
|Democratic||Bob Henry Baber||1,456||0.4|
|Democratic||Louis "Lou" Davis||1,351||0.4|
|West Virginia Secretary of State Democratic primary election, 2000|
|West Virginia Secretary of State election, 2000|
|West Virginia gubernatorial Democratic primary election, 2004|
|Democratic||Lacy Wright, Jr.||4,963||1.8|
|Democratic||Phillip "Icky" Frye||2,892||1.0|
|Democratic||Louis "Lou" Davis||2,824||1.0|
|West Virginia gubernatorial Democratic primary election, 2008|
|Democratic||Melvin Ray Kessler||90,074||25.38|
|United States Senate special Democratic primary election, 2010|
|Democratic||Sheirl Lee Fletcher||9,108||9.67|
|United States Senate Democratic primary election, 2012|
|Mountain||Bob Henry Baber||19,232||2.97|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joe Manchin.|
|Secretary of State of West Virginia
|Governor of West Virginia
Earl Ray Tomblin
|Chair of National Governors Association
|Party political offices|
|Democratic nominee for Governor of West Virginia
Earl Ray Tomblin
|Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from West Virginia
|Vice Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee
|United States Senator (Class 1) from West Virginia
Served alongside: Jay Rockefeller, Shelley Moore Capito
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority
|111th||Senate: R. Byrd • J. Rockefeller • C. Goodwin • J. Manchin||House: N. Rahall • A. Mollohan • S. Capito|
|112th||Senate: J. Rockefeller • J. Manchin||House: N. Rahall • S. Capito • D. McKinley|
|113th||Senate: J. Rockefeller • J. Manchin||House: N. Rahall • S. Capito • D. McKinley|
|114th||Senate: J. Manchin • S. Capito||House: D. McKinley • A. Mooney • E. Jenkins|
|115th||Senate: J. Manchin • S. Capito||House: D. McKinley • A. Mooney • E. Jenkins|
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