Trey Kay Published

Manchin In The Middle

Manchin In The Middle - Image

West Virginia’s U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is the man in the middle.

For years, Manchin has used his deciding vote in the Senate to stand up to President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, but recently a surprise agreement changed everything. In this episode of Us & Them, we look at the outcome of that legislation called the Inflation Reduction Act.

Many are asking, “Who is Joe Manchin?” The important compromise on climate legislation in the bill is producing a transformation to Manchin’s political image, and according to some analysts, opening opportunities for the future.

Manchin is not up for re-election to his Senate seat until 2024, but the outcome of the midterm elections could have a significant impact on him. If the Democrats lose their majority in the Senate, Manchin will no longer be the all-powerful deciding vote. However, if the party holds control of the Senate but loses the House, it’s unlikely Democratic legislation will even make it to the president’s desk.

Despite the frustrations many in his own party have with Manchin, there’s an important fact to — Manchin represents one of the most elusive and powerful factions in American politics — the middle. How far can that take him?

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council, the CRC Foundation and the Daywood Foundation.

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Joe Manchin

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
FILE – Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Aug. 1, 2022. The sprawling economic package passed by the U.S. Senate has a certain West Virginia flavor. The bill, hammered out in negotiations between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and passed with no Republican votes, could be read largely as an effort to help West Virginia look to the future without turning away entirely from its roots. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Hoppy Kercheval

Hoppy Kercheval, host of Talk Line on West Virginia Metro News, has interviewed Joe Manchin many times over the span of his political career.
Mike Plante

Mike Plante is a Democratic Party political consultant who lives in West Virginia. In 1996, Plante managed the gubernatorial campaign of Charlotte Pritt. Pritt defeated Manchin in the primary to secure the West Virginia gubernatorial nomination for the Democratic Party. It was the first and only time Manchin lost a political race. Subsequently, Manchin has reached out to Plante to help with political races and messaging campaigns.

Christopher Regan - Photo

Christopher Regan writes for publications such as the Charleston Gazette Mail and The Atlantic, and he’s a former vice chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party. Recently, Regan wrote a widely discussed piece for the Gazette Mail, that suggested Manchin’s reelection in 2024 looked questionable. He said the electoral math just wasn’t there for the two-term senator.
Evan Osnos

Pete Marovich/Pete Marovich Images
Pete Marovich
Evan Osnos is a staff writer for The New Yorker Magazine. He’s interviewed Joe Manchin on numerous occasions and has a deep connection to the Mountain State. His first job out of college was working for the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram. Osnos sees great possibilities ahead for Manchin.