Hmm: Manchin Spokesman Won't Rule Out Party Switch

Posted: Nov 08, 2010 2:58 PM
Republicans' wooing of Senator-elect Joe Manchin (D-WV) is getting hot and heavy:

Republicans are making some big promises to try to lure West Virginia Senator-elect Joe Manchin to cross the aisle.

Aside from his pick of committee assignments (likely the Energy and Natural Resources Committee), Manchin might get support for one of his pet projects - a plant to convert coal to diesel fuel that has stalled under Democratic leadership in Washington.  It's one of Manchin's pet projects and could mean big money for the state's coal producers.

Republicans believe Manchin is particularly susceptible to the overture because he is up for reelection in 2012 and will have to be on the ticket with President Obama, who is direly unpopular in West Virginia. Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Independent Joe Lieberman are the other two prime targets of Republican advances.

But is Team Manchin flirting back?

"He was elected as a Democrat and he has to go to Washington as a Democrat to try, in good faith, to make the changes in the party he campaigned on," said one Manchin advisor. "Now, if that doesn't work and Democrats aren't receptive, I don't know what possibilities that leaves open."

That door is ajar, my friends. 

Keep an eye on Manchin's early votes in the lame duck session.  He received strong backing from both labor unions and the Chamber of Commerce during his campaign, which sets these two major backers on a collision course.  Whether Manchin sides with big business or big labor early on will give us a fairly good indication of where the new senator thinks his bread is buttered -- and where his ultimate loyalties lie.