Joe Manchin tried to play it safe this weekend, breaking party lines and voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in the hopes of courting the Trump-loving majority of his home state, but he may have just shot himself in the foot. Turns out, Manchin’s Democratic base might have had enough — and the Republicans don’t like him either.
Manchin went to an IHOP in Charleston, WV today to try to touch base with his constituents about his vote. Manchin’s re-election depends on courting enough of West Virginia’s Trump voters, but also energizing the strong Democratic minority to turn out and vote for him, which doesn’t look so good, according to the Associated Press.
Here’s what some of the Democrats think, per AP:
Walker, a first-time Democratic candidate for the state legislature, said she may not vote at all in the state’s high-stakes Senate election. Julia Hamilton, a 30-year-old educator who serves on the executive committee of the Monongalia County Democratic Party, vowed to sit out the Senate race as well.
“At some point you have to draw a line,” Hamilton said. “I have heard from many, many people — especially women. They won’t be voting for Manchin either.”
Across the parking lot, 63-year-old John Vdovjac said he was deeply disappointed by Manchin’s vote. Still, the Democrat said he’d probably vote for Manchin this fall.
“I recognize the position he’s in because the state’s heavily Republican now,” said Vdovjac, a retired educator from Wheeling, as he helped grill hotdogs and hamburgers. “But he’s lost my loyalty.”
Perhaps even more damaging is the fact that the Trump-supporting voters Manchin was trying to win over know his vote was a cowardly stunt to try to save his seat.
One West Virginia Trump supporter, 74-year-old Linda Ferguson, explained the politics bluntly as she watched the parade at Saturday’s Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins.
“If he didn’t vote for Kavanaugh he could have kissed his seat goodbye,” Ferguson said.
But from some of these quotes, it looks like Manchin might as well kiss his seat goodbye anyway (emphasis mine):
That wasn’t good enough for Tammy Means, a 57-year-old florist from Charleston, who was among thousands tailgating outside West Virginia University’s football stadium in Morgantown on Saturday.
Means, a registered Democrat who voted for Trump, said she also voted for Manchin in the past.
“I’m not going to anymore. Nope,” she said with a laugh as she sipped a Smirnoff Ice. She’s glad Manchin voted for Kavanaugh, but said, “He’s just doing it so he can get elected.”
Part of the deciding factor seems to be that Manchin waited to announce his vote until it effectively didn’t mean anything, trying to play both sides of the field. Manchin didn’t come out for Kavanaugh until after Susan Collins’ self-serving marathon of a speech made his vote irrelevant.
Manchin, for his part, tried to lean hard into the “innocent until proven guilty” angle.
Per Vice News:
“I make my votes based on the facts I have,” he said, speaking outside of a scheduled event at a senior center in Huntington, West Virginia. “I’ve made some tough votes over my career. Once I have the facts and I can come home and explain, I’m voting for it. So my vote was the same no matter what.”
He explained that while some saw Kavanaugh’s hearing as a job interview, he saw it more like a trial and that he made his decision “based on the evidence the FBI put before me.”
“I asked for that investigation and I made my decision based on that and also checking with people who’ve worked with him. Who know him professionally and, both, socially, “he said.”
Vice News also put together a focus group of West Virginia voters, who don’t seem particularly impressed with Manchin’s decision. Check out a clip here:
And of course, voting for Kavanaugh isn’t going to make the GOP leave him alone. Earlier today on Face the Nation, Mitch McConnell said that the Republicans still planned to fully back Manchin’s opponent, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who Manchin leads in the polls.
“We appreciate his vote for Judge Kavanaugh,” the Kentucky senator said Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “I think it was the right thing to do. But we’re trying to win seats.”
While McConnell said he appreciates Manchin’s support, he also pointed out that he is “still a Democrat.”
In other words, Mitch says thanks for the vote, sucker.