CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was excited after his win Tuesday night, but he was more eager to get back to celebrating at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.
“I need to get back out,” Manchin said smiling, waiting to be interviewed by MetroNews.
Manchin won his second full term in office Tuesday, beating state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
President Donald Trump endorsed Morrisey, and prominent conservatives, including Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr., campaigned on Morrisey’s behalf leading up to the election.
Trump won in West Virginia in the 2016 presidential election by 42 points over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I think it speaks volumes of West Virginians,” Manchin said of his win. “We don’t care if you’re Democrat or Republican; be a West Virginian. It’s about our country and it’s about our state.
“I’ll go back and I’ll say, ‘Mr. President, the people of West Virginia spoke loud and clear. They want you to be the president of the United States, not the divided states. Let’s start working together.”
The tone Tuesday night was an aggressive shift for Manchin, who has voted more than 60 percent in line with Trump’s agenda according to FiveThirtyEight, the most of any Democrat.
“It just builds up. How much more can they do?” the senator said. “When the president calls you and says, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not coming back,’ and he comes back, they must be serious.”
In Martinsburg, Morrisey first spoke about the progress he has made as West Virginia’s attorney general.
“We’ve been able to go after federal overreach. All of those coal jobs that Barack Obama tried to put out of business? I fought back. I went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I won,” he said. “That served as a bridge to President Trump.”
Morrisey said he called Manchin to congratulate the senator on his victory, leaving him a phone message.
“I look forward to talking with Sen. Manchin and trying to do everything imaginable to help the great people of West Virginia out,” Morrisey said. “We have a phenomenal future. We have a president that loves West Virginia with all of his heart and soul.”
Morrisey focused his campaign on connecting himself to the president but faced criticisms from Manchin for his role in a lawsuit targeting the Affordable Care Act — which Manchin argued would put coverage for pre-existing conditions in jeopardy — as well as his ties to the opioid epidemic.
“He won’t drop it,” Manchin said of the lawsuit. “We’re going to fight that. We’re going to go to the Supreme Court. Whatever it takes. I’m going to fight with my lost drop of blood that you can’t through 800,000 people off, which is what they want to do.”
Manchin’s re-election efforts concentrated on reaching West Virginians, which included advertisements featuring Manchin riding across the state on a motorcycle and endorsements from natives such as West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins and University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban.
“(Manchin) truly believes and loves this state,” said Larry Puccio, senior adviser for the Manchin campaign. “He sacrificed most of his adult life by being a public servant.”
With less than two months in his current term, Manchin said his focus for the remainder of the year is securing funding for coal miners’ pensions; he serves on the Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans, which is responsible for coming up with a plan to fund pensions for 1.5 million Americans, including 22,600 West Virginia coal miners.
On Tuesday night, however, Manchin’s attention was on thanking supporters, relishing in the moment and hitting the dance floor.
“I’m an ol’ Jackie Wilson guy,” he said. “I’m a hardcore rock ‘n’ roller.”