MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Following reports that U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is being considered for the position of Department of Energy secretary, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said Manchin has not been contacted about the position to his knowledge.
According to Bloomberg, White House and Republican officials are considering appointing Manchin to the position and moving current Secretary Rick Perry to the Department of Homeland Security. John Kelly, the previous secretary, left to become White House Chief of Staff after the departure of Reince Priebus.
If Manchin was nominated and then confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Gov. Jim Justice, who is now a Republican, could appoint a Republican to serve the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2019. That appointee would give Republicans 53 seats and security on passing legislation such as health care reform.
But Jones, who described Manchin as a “personal friend,” said Manchin had not been contacted by the White House as of Saturday when the two last talked.
“He said, ‘I had recently talked to General Kelly, and it was one of those reach out and let’s work together phone calls,'” Jones said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“It is nothing that he is scheming for or had any contact with the Trump administration.”
Jones is also the host of “580 Live” on MetroNews affiliate WCHS-AM in Charleston.
Manchin was a finalist for the position before President Donald Trump chose Perry. Manchin gave the introduction to Perry during the former Texas governor’s confirmation hearing in January and voted to confirm him in March.
Jones said officials could be throwing out Manchin’s name and looking at the public reaction to decide whether to go forward.
“Sometimes, you just float a trial balloon,” Jones added.
Manchin spokesperson Jonathan Kott told Bloomberg Friday the senator had not participated in any conversations about Energy Secretary.
Manchin is running for re-election in 2018. U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and former coal miner Bo Copley have launched campaigns for the Republican nomination to challenge him. Activist Paula Jean Swearengin is running for the Democratic nomination.