Manchin, Raese face off for Senate again - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Manchin, Raese face off for Senate again

Posted: Updated:

And so they meet again.

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin will face off for his Senate seat with Republican businessman John Raese one more time.

Raese was unopposed in Tuesday's primary election, and Manchin won his primary race against former Monongalia County legislator Sheirl Fletcher, according to unofficial returns.

Manchin, who ended up with 157,237 votes -- 80 percent of those cast -- said the repeat race is "still exciting."

"The rematches people talk about — the bottom line is that I am who I am. I haven't changed, nor will I change. I'm still Joe from West Virginia," he said. "And I think everyone in Washington knows that now.

"They might not have known that when I first got there 18 months ago, but there's no question that I'm going to be very, very, very independent based on the values that we have as West Virginians and what I think is good for our country and our state."

Fletcher, who is no stranger to the race for Senate, tried to tie Manchin's actions in Congress to an agenda that is too conservative to be part of the Democratic Party.

"I believe in the democratic process, and the voters have made their voices heard, so I support the party, I support the ticket, and I wish Sen. Manchin all the best," Fletcher said after the race was called. "We're a party with a big umbrella, and we pride ourselves in being diversified, but when it's all said and done, we all join together and we will fight on for the cause that we have in November."

She ran in the 2010 special primary election for the seat held by the late Robert C. Byrd and received 9,108 votes to Raese's 38,568 votes and Manchin's 68,827.

In the 2010 special general election, Manchin received 53 percent of the vote and Raese received 43 percent of the vote for the U.S. Senate.

Fletcher said she spent most of Tuesday calling and emailing her thanks to campaign supporters. She said she had no plans at this point to run for any other office, but she would be willing to serve anywhere constituents asked.

Manchin called Fletcher a friend and said he appreciated her campaign, but he did not take his position for granted.

"I've worked hard, we continue to work hard, and we will continue to work hard through November and beyond," he said. "If the people will honor me with allowing me to continue to go and serve them, I will give them everything I have."

Fletcher, a former employee of CONSOL Energy, owns an environmental consulting firm. She lost to U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in a 2008 bid for the Senate and served two terms in the House of Delegates as a Republican in 1998 and 2000.

Manchin has come under fire recently for his party loyalty. Last month, he said he was not sure who would get his vote for president — fellow Democrat Barack Obama or presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Manchin later backtracked from that statement, saying he made it only to get the White House's attention. In addition, Manchin lost his long-time endorsement from West Virginians for Life because of his vote against cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and the federal health care overhaul.

Manchin, a native of Farmington, was elected to the House of Delegates in 1982, then the state Senate in 1986, where he stayed for 10 years. He lost to Charlotte Pritt in the Democratic primary for governor in 1996, and in 2000, he was elected secretary of state. In 2004, Manchin was elected governor. He was re-elected in 2008. In 2010, he ran to fill Byrd's unexpired term. When he won, he resigned from the governor's office.

Manchin said Tuesday night his priorities are to make bipartisan moves, to get the country's finances in order, to create an energy plan and to get out of Afghanistan.

But Manchin, who is rarely without words, did not have much to say Tuesday night about the heat he's taken for those statements about being unsure who to support for president in November.

"I've really said all I'm going to say about that," he said. "The bottom line is it's a little bit ridiculous that people make such a thing out of that when it should be ‘What are we going to do about the jobs, aren't you concerned? What about your children's opportunity? What about getting them a good education? What about coming back and rebuilding the infrastructure we need rather than stay in a country basically spending trillions of dollars when we should be back home in America?'

"Those are the policies that I'm really concerned at the level I'm at right now as U.S. Senate, those are the things I'll fight for, and those are the things I'll vote for."

Raese will face his share of detractors. He has announced support for eliminating the federal minimum wage, the Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service.

His camp did not have many comments to make Tuesday night, saying the campaign is excited for the race in November, and it gave a repeat of Raese's comment when he filed for office, that he has "a lot of unfinished business."

This will mark Raese's fourth attempt at the Senate. He lost to Rockefeller in 1984, then against Byrd in 2006. He lost to Manchin in the 2010 special and general elections.

Neil Berch, an associate professor of political science at West Virginia University, said Tuesday that because of the presidential election, more Democrats will be voting and Raese will have a hard road ahead of him.

"There are two additional problems for Raese," Berch said. "One is that Manchin has established himself as just about the most popular politician in West Virginia, and second that Raese has established through running numerous times that he can't win.

"He can't make the claim that it was close last time, because it wasn't that close."

Raese is president and chief executive officer of Greer Industries, a steel and limestone producer, The Dominion Post and West Virginia Radio Corp.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WVSTATE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.