Sen. Manchin reaches national audience from Capitol Hill - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Sen. Manchin reaches national audience from Capitol Hill

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When Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., left West Virginia in 2010 to fill the unexpired term of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, some people thought he might succumb to the adjustment of going from being the most powerful politco in the Mountain State to being a junior senator from a small state with not much national clout.

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Since his election to the U.S. Senate in November 2010, Manchin has made a name for himself in national political circles as someone who is not afraid to voice his opinions, even if that opinion is opposite the Senate's Democratic leaders.

That determination and dedication to who he is and where he comes from resulted in Manchin being named as the state's most influential federal politician for 2011.

Manchin made national headlines in March when he announced he would buck party lines and not vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling unless the Senate moved on a deficit reduction plan.

"We cannot make budgets based on the next election; they must be based on the next generation," he said at the time. "That is why I will vote against raising the debt ceiling, unless the vote is linked to a real budget plan that begins to fix our fiscal mess. "

His position was noticed and reported on by major media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post. He also went askew of party leaders when he declared that President Barack Obama had "failed to lead" in the federal budget debate and co-sponsored a bill blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating green house gas emissions.

Manchin's fleet footing in Washington, D.C., didn't surprise many. He simply approached his role in Congress with his usual style of quickly assessing a situation and the players, looking at problems through a West Virginia lens and making plenty of trips back home to remain the attainable politician who makes residents feel not only like he knows them personally, but their dads and uncles, too.

Manchin branded his tours throughout the state as "common sense," trips, and he intervened in state issues when he thought appropriate — such as the debate over West Virginia University's athletic conference alignment.

It's the brand Manchin built for himself after winning his first election in 1985 to the West Virginia House of Delegates at age 35.

His bold, but some say risky moves, were definitely noticed in his home state.

"Manchin is a major national player and should be the Democratic nominee for president," said West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts.

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