Democrat Sen. Joe Machin, who is up for re-election next year, was not all that receptive to the idea of failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joining him on the campaign trail.
The senior senator from West Virginia appeared on MSNBC’s “Kasie DC” on Sunday to discuss the state of his campaign and the immense unpopularity of Clinton among the voters in his state.
When asked if he’d like Clinton to join him on the campaign trail, Manchin unequivocally responded in the negative.
“It wouldn’t be wise for Hillary to come to West Virginia. It wouldn’t be a good thing for her or for me,” he said.
The longtime Democrat went on to say that he is friends with the Clintons, having known them for many years and worked with them on state issues. However, Manchin also explained why he wouldn’t want Clinton associated with his re-election — and why she is so despised by coal miners in his state.
“We have a great relationship. It’s just that things that were said it was just very harmful and very hard to justify,” he explained. “She made a big mistake and it was wrong.”
Manchin was referring to public statements Clinton made while on the presidential campaign stump last year.
In March 2016, the Democratic nominee said that if she won the election, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” according to Politico. The comments drew immediate backlash from the many coal miners in West Virginia and elsewhere who depend on the industry for their livelihood.
Clinton later apologized and described her comment as a “misstatement.”
However, West Virginia voters never forgave her. Clinton, who once dominated the state during the 2008 Democratic primary, lost the primary eight years later to Bernie Sanders by wide margins. She then lost to Donald Trump on Election Day by over 40 points.
The results were not just indicative of how despised Clinton is in the Mountain State, but also a result of the increasing partisan shift in the state’s politics. Once a Democratic bastion, West Virginia has moved markedly to the right.
Over the past decade, the GOP has taken control of the state legislature, the entire congressional delegation and the majority of statewide offices.
Gov. Jim Justice, who was elected last year as a Democrat, made the surprise announcement in August that he was switching party affiliations and becoming a Republican, even doing so at a campaign rally alongside Trump.
The major partisan swing has left Manchin in a precarious situation as he prepares for re-election.
While Manchin is a mainstay in West Virginia politics — he’s previously served as governor, secretary of state and a state legislator — he must figure out how to best maneuver in a state that that has already changed so much since his last election in 2012.
Being associated with Clinton and other big-name Democrats would amount to wearing an albatross around his neck against a growing number of Republican contenders looking to challenge him.
“Both Sen. Manchin and Rep. Evan Jenkins supported Hillary Clinton – who West Virginians clearly rejected decisively. Now both candidates are trying desperately to run away from their past support for Hillary, but voters won’t buy it,” said Nachama Soloveichik, a spokeswoman for Patrick Morrisey’s Senate campaign, in a statement to Western Journalism.
Morrisey, West Virginia’s current attorney general, is among several Republicans looking to oust Manchin in the upcoming 2018 election. But first, he must prevail in the GOP primary. His strongest opponent is likely Republican Congressman Evan Jenkins, who is also seeking Manchin’s Senate seat.
A member of the Republican wave that has taken over West Virginia, Morrisey was elected attorney general in 2012, defeating Darrell McGraw, a Democrat. McGraw had previously been elected attorney general five consecutive times. Morrisey became the first Republican attorney general of the state since 1933.
Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News and a former White House senior adviser, has taken notice of Morrisey’s rise. Bannon, who also served as Trump’s presidential campaign chairman, announced he’s backing Morrisey’s Senate bid.
Bannon has notoriously listed a number of Republican senators he’s targeting for a conservative primary in 2018 as he looks to be influential in next year’s midterms. Great America PAC, a pro-Trump political action committee, has also endorsed Morrisey.
“There is only one conservative in this race who has fought for West Virginia,” Soloveichik said, “and that is Patrick Morrisey.”
Image and Content: Western Journalism