Joe Manchin, the pebble in Joe Biden’s shoe

Local roots

Almost Heaven (“Almost-paradise”): it is the name of the house-boat on which Joe Manchin resides when he is in Washington. One way of showing that the capital is not its natural environment. Aged 74, he comes from a family of Italian immigrants of rather modest origin. A Catholic, close to mining unions and the energy industries, he grew up in the small town of Farmington, West Virginia. He is the grandson of Giuseppe Mancini, who arrived at the beginning of the XXe century, which ran a garage and then a grocery store. His uncle, A. James Manchin, got involved in politics and worked for the success of John F. Kennedy in that state.

A Democrat in Republican soil

At the end of October, in response to rumors about his departure from the Democratic Party, Joe Manchin joked: “I don’t think Republicans would be happier with me than Democrats are right now… I’m not sure where I belong. ” Voters in West Virginia, who have voted 68% for Republican Donald Trump in the past two presidential elections, seem to be in it. Joe Manchin was elected locally as early as 1982. When he first ran for governor in 1996, Manchin was already against abortion and in favor of the death penalty and juvenile correctional camps. Defeated in the primary, he decided to support the Republican candidate. In 2004, he was elected governor, then re-elected in 2008, presenting himself as “Friend of coal” and parading in campaign clips with a gun.

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A pivotal role

Elected senator in 2010, Joe Manchin has always played a dissonant, centrist score, refusing polarization. He got along well with Donald Trump. He is regularly praised by the Republican Party in Congress. Even conservative channels like Fox News treat him with esteem. Joe Manchin is something of an anomaly in the Democratic landscape, eliciting sighs from his colleagues. In 2021, those sighs turned into exasperation, due to his pivotal role in the Senate, divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. Each text providing for new spending is an opportunity for Joe Manchin to call to order the progressive wing, which in return accuses him of compromising the presidential agenda.

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The man of the coal lobbies

Joe Manchin’s opposition to the ecological component of the Build Back Better plan, which provides for $ 1.7 trillion in investment, is not surprising. West Virginia is the second largest coal producing state and the 7the natural gas producer. According to the political finance organization OpenSecrets, no other senator has received more campaign donations in recent years than Joe Manchin from these industries. He owns shares – valued at between $ 1 million and $ 5 million – in the coal brokerage firm Enersystems, which he founded in 1988. He handed over management to his son Joseph in 2000. In 2020, Joe Manchin received nearly 418,000 euros in dividends.

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Joe Manchin, the pebble in Joe Biden’s shoe