The political feud between Senator Joe Manchin and Governor Jim Justice has escalated, with Justice accusing Manchin of corruption.
“Literally, Joe Manchin is selling his influence and making money,” Justice said at his Monday media briefing.
“Joe Manchin has been a politician forever, yet he is a rich man. How could that possibly be?” Justice asked. “Absolutely he makes money selling his influence.” However, Justice cited no specific examples.
Manchin fired back.
“Instead of political attacks that do nothing to help hard-working West Virginians, I welcome the opportunity to speak with Governor Justice about the best possible ways to improve the lives of West Virginians with more than $2 billion in federal funding that I secured for our state in this bill (Covid-19 relief bill),” Manchin said in a statement released by his office.
“Policy differences do not justify personal attacks; I want to work with Governor Justice in the best interest of our state,” Manchin said.
The latest salvo between two of the states mega political figures concerns the Covid relief bill the Senate just passed. The bill includes language restricting how states can use the money.
Manchin, a former Governor of West Virginia, believes Justice’s plan to eliminate the state income tax is a mistake, and he wants to prevent Justice from using any of the federal money to offset a decline in revenue from the tax plan.
Justice insisted again Monday that is not the case. “My additional rainy day bucket has nothing—and still has nothing in the world—to do with taking CARES money and putting it over here in a rainy day bucket that is for tax relief,” Justice said. “Nothing whatsoever.”
Manchin and Justice used to be political partners. Manchin supported the Governor during Justice’s first campaign in 2016. But then during his first term, Justice switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party in 2017 and the following year fired Manchin’s wife, Gayle, from her position as secretary of Education and the Arts.
Their relationship has been all downhill from there.
The two have become more openly critical of each other. Manchin contemplated running against Justice in 2020 before deciding to throw his support behind Ben Salango. Justice reminded Manchin yesterday how that went.
“For all practical purposes I ran against him (Manchin) in the last election and won every single county in the state,” Justice said.
Justice and Manchin are the alpha males of West Virginia politics. If this story were playing out in an old western movie, this town wouldn’t be big enough for the both of them.
But this is not a movie; it is real life. It is in West Virginia’s best interest for the Governor to have a respectful, working relationship with the state’s Congressional delegation. Justice needs to tone down the personal attacks on Manchin, especially the ad hominem “corruption” charge, unless he is willing to back that up.
As for Manchin, he is a United States Senator, and not the Governor anymore. However, it is common for Congress to attach strings on how federal money is spent.
Come on, guys. Work out your differences.