It’s Wednesday afternoon at the United States Capitol. The U.S. Senate had just voted 77-19 to confirm Thomas Barber as a U.S. District Judge in Florida. There was no debate. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin was a “yes” vote.
That was just one of a series of judicial confirmation votes the Senate took that day. Oh, and there was also a vote the day before on Senate Resolution 504 designating July 17, 2019 as “Glioblastoma Awareness Day.”
Just another fascinating couple of days in the life of Senator Joe Manchin.
Meanwhile, back in his home state, the news was breaking—fast. Senate Republicans were in revolt against Governor Jim Justice. The House and Senate were trying to hammer out a deal on education reform. Justice was touting record revenue collections and turning up at kickoffs for road construction projects.
The action was in the State Capitol not the U.S. Capitol, and it’s that action Manchin misses. He’s beside himself with the glacial pace of federal legislation. Work on a bill for years? Sorry, not in Manchin’s wheelhouse. He would rather be in the Governor’s office raising a fuss on the phone to get a culvert replaced or locking disputing stakeholders in the office with him until they got a deal.
I first wrote about Manchin’s interest in running for Governor again back in January. I had to caution at the time that maybe Manchin was going through a rough patch in D.C, but since then, the chatter about him returning to the state has only gotten louder.
The Hill jumped on the story this week. “In moments of frustration, the centrist Senator has gone so far as to tell colleagues that he may leave the upper chamber before the end of this Congress or after the 2020 election.”
Manchin, 71, told The Hill, “I have people back home that want me to come back and run for Governor. We’re looking at all the different plays. I want to make sure whatever time I have left in public service is productive.”
If you know Manchin—and a remarkable number of West Virginian’s do—then you are aware of his upbeat, can-do, glass-half-full approach, which puts him wildly out of sync with the current Washington climate. “I haven’t been happy since I’ve been here,” he confessed to The Hill.
Manchin is homesick! He’s not alone. I’m told several other U.S. Senators are miserable with Washington inertia, but they are not as vocal about it as Manchin.
Manchin could run for Governor in 2020 while he is in the Senate and maintain that seat if he loses. Also, The Hill reports, depending on the timing of when he would leave the Senate and take office as Governor, he might even be able to appoint his own replacement.
The possibility of a Manchin gubernatorial bid raced past rumor status months ago and now it is no longer just speculation. Will he run? The winds are blowing that way, I am told by a source familiar with Manchin’s thinking.