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Kavanaugh Column, News

Joe Manchin, Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is in a tough election race this fall. Real Clear Politics polling has him with an uncomfortable lead against his Republican opponent, and Manchin is running hard. President Trump won the Mountaineer State in 2016 with a whopping 68.5%, the largest margin of victory for any presidential candidate in the state’s history. A Democratic senator in a historically blue state that turned red virtually overnight, Manchin has taken to airing ads showing him taking a shotgun to Republican opponent Patrick Morrisey’s lawsuit against the “preexisting conditions coverage” component of the Obamacare statute.

Manchin describes himself as “pro-life” – as any politician would in a state that polls the lowest in support for legalized abortion – but has voted against de-funding Planned Parenthood in federal programs, and the pro-life political advocacy group Susan B. Anthony List is working hard against him in West Virginia. Manchin called onPresident Trump to nominate a “centrist” judge who would uphold Roe v. Wade, and Morrisey’s campaign responded by declaring, “If Sen. Joe Manchin is unwilling to support justices who will defend the sanctity of life, West Virginia voters cannot trust Manchin to stand up for life.”

Manchin knows very well the barrel of the gun can point both ways, and he has no desire to be looking down the business end on November 6th. Perhaps more than any senator who faces a 2018 election (save possibly for Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who voted with Manchin for the 20-week fetal pain bill early this year), Manchin is in a tough spot. His future in the Senate may very well depend upon his vote on the Kavanaugh nomination.