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Officially, Joe Manchin works as West Virginia’s senior U.S. senator. Unofficially, the moderate Democrat is moonlighting as a literal concrete roadblock stopping Democrats from enacting their agenda.
Now, angry progressive activists have begun plotting their revenge.
What is the background?
Manchin further solidified his position as the thorn in the Democratic Party’s side over the weekend when he announced he would vote against the For The People Act, a sweeping election reform bill with zero Republican support. Manchin said he won’t support the bill because doing so is simply a partisan endeavor that would result in further division.
Because the Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, Manchin’s opposition effectively kills the bill.
In the same sweep, Manchin said he would not buck the Senate’s filibuster. Democrats want to eliminate the filibuster to prevent Republicans from having a check on their power.
Indeed, despite Joe Biden winning the presidency and Democrats taking control of the Senate, Manchin is the most powerful man in Washington, D.C., able to singlehandedly stop Democrats from enacting the far-left agenda they promised.
What are angry Democrats planning?
Progressive activists, according to The Hill, say “the best way forward,” in light of lawmakers like Manchin and fellow moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) not blindly supporting the Democratic Party’s agenda, is to unseat them through primary challenges.
“Anger at Manchin and Sinema, when it comes to response, it’s nearly as strong as what we saw under Trump,” Brianna Wu, executive director of Rebellion PAC, a far-left organization working to primary moderate lawmakers, told The Hill.
The Hill reported, “The thinking is that with enough pressure, voters will see the moderates’ attempts to work with Republicans as increasingly politically untenable. Progressives like Wu want to run ads meant to dampen Manchin’s and Sinema’s approval ratings on their home turfs.”
Even Democratic lawmakers are publicly piling on.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) called Manchin the “new Mitch McConnell,” while Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) compared Manchin’s opposition to the For The People Act to preserving Jim Crow.
Routing Manchin from the Senate in a primary challenge would certainly prove difficult.
Not only is Manchin not up for re-election until 2024 — meaning today’s problems will likely be an afterthought in 3.5 years — but Manchin is a moderate lawmaker in a deeply red state.
In fact, former President Donald Trump won West Virginia by nearly 40 points over then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The likelihood, then, that progressive activists could recruit a far-left candidate that resembles Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and successfully primary Manchin in a state with a low tolerance for liberal politics is highly unlikely — if not impossible.