Joe Manchin

Joe Manchin
United States Senator
from West Virginia
Assumed office
November 15, 2010
Serving with Shelley Moore Capito
Preceded by Carte Goodwin
34th Governor of West Virginia
In office
January 17, 2005  November 15, 2010
Preceded by Bob Wise
Succeeded by Earl Ray Tomblin
27th Secretary of State of West Virginia
In office
January 15, 2001  January 17, 2005
Governor Bob Wise
Preceded by Ken Hechler
Succeeded by Betty Ireland
Member of the West Virginia Senate
from the 13th district
In office
December 1, 1992  December 1, 1996
Preceded by Bill Sharpe
Succeeded by Roman Prezioso
Member of the West Virginia Senate
from the 14th district
In office
December 1, 1986  December 1, 1992
Preceded by Anthony Yanero
Succeeded by Charles Felton
Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates
from the 31st district
In office
December 1, 1982  December 1, 1984
Preceded by Clyde See
Succeeded by ???
Personal details
Born Joseph Manchin III
(1947-08-24) August 24, 1947
Farmington, West Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Gayle Conelly
Children 3 (including Heather)
Alma mater West Virginia University, Morgantown (BA)
Website Senate website

Joseph "Joe" Manchin III (born August 24, 1947)[1] is the senior United States Senator from West Virginia. Manchin, a member of the Democratic Party, served as the Governor of West Virginia from 2005 to 2010 and the Secretary of State of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005. He won the special election in November 2010 to fill the seat of Senator Robert Byrd, the longest serving U.S. Senator in history, who died in office. Manchin was elected to a full term in office with 60 percent of the vote in November 2012. Manchin became the state's senior Senator when Jay Rockefeller retired in 2015.

Manchin is known for his bipartisanship, voting or working with Republicans on issues such as abortion and gun ownership.

Early life and education

Manchin was born in Farmington, West Virginia, a small coal mining town, in 1947, the second of five children of Mary O. (née Gouzd) and John Manchin.[1][2] Manchin was derived from "Mancini". His father was of Italian descent and his maternal grandparents were Czechoslovakian immigrants.[1][3]

His father owned a carpet and furniture store, and his grandfather, Joseph Manchin, owned a grocery store.[4] His father and his grandfather both once served as Mayor of Farmington, West Virginia. His uncle, A.J. Manchin, was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates and was elected as the West Virginia Secretary of State and West Virginia State Treasurer.[5]

Manchin graduated from Farmington High School in 1965.[6] Manchin entered West Virginia University on a football scholarship in 1965; however, an injury during practice ended his football career. He graduated in 1970 with a degree in business administration and later became involved in several family-owned businesses.

Early political career

Manchin was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1982 at the age of 35 and was elected to the West Virginia Senate in 1986, where he served until 1996. He ran for Governor in 1996, finishing second to Charlotte Pritt among a large group of candidates in the Democratic primary election. He later ran and was elected as Secretary of State of West Virginia in 2000.

Governor of West Virginia


Manchin announced his intention to challenge incumbent Democratic Governor, Bob Wise, in the 2004 Democratic primary election in May 2003. Wise decided not to seek re-election after a scandal, and Manchin won the Democratic primary and general election by large margins. His election marked the first time that two people of the same political party followed one another in the West Virginia Governor's office since 1964. After the election, he was criticized in the press for using taxpayer funds to purchase 17 flat screen TVs for the Governor's Mansion.[7]

Manchin won re-election to a second term as governor in 2008, capturing 70 percent of the vote.[8]


Manchin speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in his capacity as chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

Manchin was a member of the National Governors Association, the Southern Governors' Association, and the Democratic Governors Association. He was also chairman of the Southern States Energy Board, state's chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission and chairman of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission.

In July 2005, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship sued Manchin, alleging that Manchin had violated Blankenship's First Amendment rights by threatening increased government scrutiny of his coal operations due to Blankenship's political activities.[9] Blankenship had donated substantial funds into campaigns to defeat a proposed pension bond amendment and oppose the re-election of state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw,[10] and he fought against a proposed increase in the severance tax on extraction of mineral resources.[11] Soon after defeat of the pension bond amendment, the state Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) revoked a permit approval for controversial new silos near Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh County. While area residents had complained for some time that the coal operation there endangered their children, Blankenship claimed that the DEP acted in response to his opposition to the bond amendment.[12]

During the 2006 Sago Mine disaster in early January 2006 in Upshur County, West Virginia, Manchin in appeared to confirm incorrect reports that 12 miners had survived; in actuality only one survived. Manchin later acknowledged that an unintentional miscommunication had occurred with rescue teams within the mine. On February 1, 2006, he ordered a stop to all coal production in West Virginia, pending safety checks, after two more miners were killed in separate accidents.[13] Sixteen West Virginia coal miners died from mining accidents in early 2006. In November 2006, SurveyUSA ranked him as one of the most popular governors in the country with a 74 percent approval rating.[14]

In 2007, a controversy arose after Manchin's daughter, Heather Bresch, claimed to have earned an MBA degree from West Virginia University (WVU). However, after information emerged detailing the fallacy of the statement, Manchin placed the blame on WVU. In the wake of the controversy, WVU President Mike Garrison, Garrison's legal counsel and the Dean of the Business School resigned, amongst others. A panel was convened to fully investigate the measure.[7] The issue hurt the credibility of the university, which placed pressure on the board to take action and remedy the situation. She serves as CEO of Mylan Inc., the third largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer in the U.S. with headquarters in Morgantown, adjacent to the WVU campus.[15]

U.S. Senate



Memorial service for Robert Byrd at the State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, July 2, 2010.

Due to the declining health of U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, speculation focused on what Manchin's response would be if Byrd died. The governor consistently refused to comment on the subject prior to Byrd's death, except for stating that he would not appoint himself to the position.[16] Byrd died on June 28, 2010,[17] and Manchin appointed Carte Goodwin, his 36-year-old legal adviser, on July 16.[18]

On July 20, 2010, Manchin announced he would seek the Senate seat.[19] In the Democratic primary on August 28, he defeated former Democratic Congressman and former West Virginia Secretary of State Ken Hechler.[20] In the general election, he then defeated Republican John Raese.


Manchin chose to stand for reelection to a full term in 2012. According to Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, early polling found Manchin heavily favored, leading congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito 50–39, 2010 opponent John Raese 60–31, and Congressman David McKinley 57–28.[21] Manchin had not endorsed his party's candidate for the 2012 presidential election, saying he has "some real differences" with the presumptive nominees of both the Democrats and the Republicans, finding fault with Obama's economic and energy policies and questioning Romney's understanding of the "challenges facing ordinary people."[22]

Manchin defeated Republican John Raese and Mountain Party candidate Bob Henry Baber with 60.49% of the total vote and won a full term in the U.S. Senate.[23]


Manchin was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden on November 15, 2010, succeeding interim Senator Carte Goodwin. Manchin named Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis to be his chief of staff. Kofinis was formerly an adviser to Wesley Clark and John Edwards. Before his swearing-in, rumors suggested that the Republican Party was courting Manchin to change parties.[24] Although the Republicans later suggested that Manchin was the source of the rumors,[25] they attempted to convince him again in 2014 after retaking control of the Senate.[26] He again rejected their overtures.[27]

In 2015, Manchin announced that he would seek re-election to the Senate in 2018.[28]


Manchin identifies as pro-life.[29] On August 3, 2015, he broke with Democratic leadership by voting in favor of a Republican-sponsored bill to terminate Federal funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, an abortion-providing company which had been accused of illegal activity.[30]

Health care

On September 27, 2013, Manchin voted to restore funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as part of an amendment to legislation funding government operations for 45 days, and which also omitted House-passed language prioritizing debt payments if Congress fails to increase the nation’s borrowing limits.[31]

Federal budget

Manchin has co-sponsored balanced budget amendments put forth by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT),[32] Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Mark Udall (D-CO).[33] He has also voted against raising the federal debt ceiling.[34]

Reducing drug trade

In June 2011, Manchin joined Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in seeking a crackdown on Bitcoin currency transactions, saying that they facilitated illegal drug trade transactions. "The transactions leave no traditional [bank transfer] money trail for investigators to follow, and leave it hard to prove a package recipient knew in advance what was in a shipment," using an "'anonymizing network' known as Tor."[35] One opinion website said the Senators wanted "to disrupt [the] Silk Road drug website."[36]

In May 2012, in an effort to reduce prescription drug abuse, Manchin offered a successful amendment to the Food and Drug Administration re-authorization bill to reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance.[37]

Senior citizens

To help locate missing senior citizens, Manchin introduced the Silver Alert Act in July 2011 to create a nationwide network for locating missing adults and senior citizens modeled after the AMBER Alert.[38] Manchin also sponsored the National Yellow Dot Act to create a voluntary program that would alert emergency services personnel responding to car accidents of the availability of personal and medical information on the car's owner.[39]


Manchin sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and supports a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy approach that uses coal.[40]

Manchin's first bill in the Senate dealt with what he calls the EPA's overreach. After the EPA vetoed a previously-approved permit for the Spruce Mine in Logan County, West Virginia, Senator Manchin offered the "EPA Fair Play Act."[41]

The bill would "clarify and confirm the authority of the Environment Protection Agency to deny or restrict the use of defined areas as disposal sites for the discharge of dredged or filled material."[42] Manchin said the bill would prevent the agency from "changing its rules on businesses after permits have already been granted."[43]

On November 14, 2011, Manchin chaired his first field hearing of that committee in Charleston, West Virginia, to focus on Marcellus Shale natural gas development and production. Manchin said, "We are literally sitting on top of tremendous potential with the Marcellus shale. We need to work together to chart a path forward in a safe and responsible way that lets us produce energy right here in America."[44]

Manchin supports building the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada. Manchin has said, "It makes so much common sense that you want to buy [oil] off your friends and not your enemies." The pipeline would span over 2,000 miles across the United States.[45]

On November 9, 2011, Manchin introduced the "Fair Compliance Act" with Senator Dan Coats (R-IN). Their bill would "lengthen timelines and establish benchmarks for utilities to comply with two major Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rules. The legislation would extend the compliance deadline for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR, by three years and the deadline for the Utility MACT rule by two years -- setting both to January 1, 2017."[46]

Manchin introduced the "American Alternative Fuels Act" on May 10, 2011, with Senator John Barrasso (R-WY). The bill would remove restrictions to the development of alternative fuels, repeal part of the 2007 energy bill restricting the federal government from buying alternative fuels and encourages the development of algae-based fuels and synthetic natural gas. Regarding the bill, Manchin said, "Our unacceptably high gas prices are hurting not only West Virginians, but all Americans, and they underscore a critical need: the federal government needs to be a partner, not an obstacle, for businesses that can transform our domestic energy resources into gas."[47]


In his first year in office, Manchin met one-on-one with all of his 99 Senate colleagues in an effort to get to know them better.[48]

On December 13, 2010, Manchin participated in the launch of No Labels, a new, nonpartisan organization that is "committed to bringing all sides together to move the nation forward."[49] Manchin is a co-chair of No Labels.[50]

Pat Toomey advocates reducing gun regulations, but in 2013, he worked with Joe Manchin to introduce legislation that would require a background check for most gun sales. The Manchin-Toomey bill was voted on and defeated on April 17, 2013, by a vote of 54–46 because to pass it needed 60.[51]

In 2015, the Lugar Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit founded by Senator Richard Lugar released a Bipartisan Index in cooperation with Georgetown University, ranking Senator Manchin the fourth most bipartisan senator in the 114th Congress. [52]


On June 21, 2011, Manchin delivered a speech on the Senate floor calling for a "substantial and responsible reduction in the United States' military presence in Afghanistan." He said, "We can no longer afford to rebuild Afghanistan and America. We must choose. And I choose America."[53]

Manchin has introduced legislation to reduce the use of overseas service and security contractors. He successfully amended the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act to cap contractors' taxpayer funded salaries at $230,000.[54]

Gun laws

In 2012 Manchin's candidacy was endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), who gave him an "A" rating.[55] Following the Sandy Hook shooting, Manchin partnered with Republican Senator Pat Toomey to introduce a bill that would have strengthened background checks on gun sales. Though the legislation never acquired enough votes to win Senate passage, the NRA targeted him in an attack ad.[56][57][58]

Manchin was criticized in 2013 for agreeing to an interview with The Journal in Martinsburg, West Virginia, but demanding that he would not be asked any questions about gun control or the second amendment.[59]

Committee assignments


Coal industry

On October 6, 2010, Manchin directed a lawsuit aimed at overturning new federal rules concerning mountaintop removal mining. Filed by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the lawsuit "accuses U.S. EPA of overstepping its authority and asks the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to throw out the federal agency's new guidelines for issuing Clean Water Act permits for coal mines." In order to qualify for the permits, mining companies need to prove their projects would not cause the concentration of pollutants in the local water to rise 5 times past the normal level. The New York Times reported that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the new legislation would protect 95 percent of aquatic life by banning operators from dumping mine waste into streams.[60]

Manchin has received criticism from environmentalists due to his close family ties to the coal industry. He served as president of Energysystems in the late 1990s before becoming active in politics. On his financial disclosures in 2009 and 2010, his reported earnings from the company were $1,363,916 and $417,255 respectively.[61] Critics have stated his opposition to health regulations that would raise expenses for the industry are due to his stake in the industry; Jim Sconyers, chairman of West Virginia’s Sierra Club chapter stated that "he’s been nothing but a mouthpiece for the coal industry his whole public life."[61] However, opinions on the subject are mixed; The Charleston Gazette noted "the prospect that Manchin’s $1.7 million-plus in recent Enersystems earnings might tilt him even more strongly pro-coal might seem remote, given the deep economic and cultural connections that the industry maintains in West Virginia."[62]

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

On December 9, 2010, Manchin was the sole Democrat to vote against cloture for the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained a provision to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In an interview with The Associated Press, Manchin cited the advice of retired military chaplains as a basis for his decision to vote against repeal.[63] He also indicated he wanted more time to "hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia."[64] A day later, he was publicly criticized at a gay rights rally for his position on the bill.[65] On December 18, 2010, Manchin was not present for the vote to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and the vote on the DREAM Act, regarding immigration. The National Republican Senatorial Committee criticized Manchin for attending a family Christmas gathering instead of voting on these important issues.[66] The Washington Post reported that he was the only Senate Democrat to miss these votes “on two of his party's signature pieces of legislation.”[67]

Party-switching speculations

As the 2016 elections approached, many reports speculated that Manchin would lose his loyalty to his party and switch to Republican if the Senate was in a 50-50 tie.[68] This is due to him already being conservative-leaning, which many Democrats have criticized him for.[69] However, he later stated that he would stay with the Democratic Party for at least how long he stays in the Senate.[70]

Personal life

Manchin is a member of the National Rifle Association and a licensed pilot.[1][71][72] In 1967 he married Gayle Conelly. Together they have three children: Heather, Joseph IV, and Brooke.[1]

In 2006 and 2010 Manchin delivered commencement addresses at Wheeling Jesuit University and at Davis & Elkins College, receiving honorary degrees from both institutions.

In December 2012, Manchin voiced his displeasure with MTV's new reality show Buckwild and asked the network's president to cancel the show.[73]

In a lawsuit filed in July 2014, Dr. John Manchin II, one of Joe Manchin's brothers, sued Joe Manchin together with his other brother, Roch Manchin, over a $1.7 million loan. The lawsuit alleges that Joe Manchin and Roch Manchin borrowed the money to keep the doors open at family-owned carpet business run by Roch, that there have never been any payments made on the loan, and the defendants had taken other measures to evade compensating John Machin II for non-payment.[74] Dr. Manchin withdrew the suit on June 30, 2015.[75]

Electoral history

West Virginia 31st district House of Delegates Democratic primary election, 1982
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 7,687 21.2
Democratic Cody Starcher 6,844 18.8
Democratic William Stewart 6,391 17.6
Democratic Nick Fantasia 5,072 14.0
Democratic Samuel Morasco 4,250 11.7
Democratic Donald Smith 3,276 9.0
Democratic Lonnie Bray 2,819 7.8
West Virginia 31st district House of Delegates election,1982
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 16,160 16.7
Democratic Cody Starcher 16,110 16.6
Democratic William Stewart 15,090 15.6
Republican Paul Prunty 14,620 15.1
Republican Benjamin Springston 12,166 12.6
Democratic Samuel Morasco 11,741 12.1
Republican Edgar Williams, III 5,702 5.9
Republican Lyman Clark 5,270 5.4
West Virginia 14th district State Senate Democratic primary election, 1986
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 10,691 56.5
Democratic Jack May 8,220 43.5
West Virginia 14th district State Senate election, 1986
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 17,284 65.9
Republican Lyman Clark 8,955 34.1
West Virginia 14th district State Senate Democratic primary election, 1988
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 13,932 63.6
Democratic Anthony Yanero 7,981 36.4
West Virginia 14th district State Senate election, 1988
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 29,792 100.0
West Virginia 13th district State Senate election, 1992
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 33,218 100.0
West Virginia gubernatorial Democratic primary election, 1996
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Charlotte Pritt 130,107 39.5
Democratic Joe Manchin 107,124 32.6
Democratic Jim Lees 64,100 19.5
Democratic Larrie Bailey 15,733 4.8
Democratic Bob Myers 3,038 0.9
Democratic Lyle Sattes 2,931 0.9
Democratic Bob Henry Baber 1,456 0.4
Democratic Louis "Lou" Davis 1,351 0.4
Democratic Richard Koon 1,154 0.4
Democratic Frankie Rocchetti 1,330 0.4
Democratic Fred Schell 733 0.2
West Virginia Secretary of State Democratic primary election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 141,839 51.1
Democratic Charlotte Pritt 80,148 28.9
Democratic Mike Oliverio 35,424 12.8
Democratic Bobby Nelson 20,259 7.3
West Virginia Secretary of State election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 478,489 89.4
Libertarian Poochie Myers 56,477 10.6
West Virginia gubernatorial Democratic primary election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 149,362 52.7
Democratic Lloyd Jackson 77,052 27.2
Democratic Jim Lees 40,161 14.2
Democratic Lacy Wright, Jr. 4,963 1.8
Democratic Jerry Baker 3,009 1.1
Democratic James Baughman 2,999 1.1
Democratic Phillip "Icky" Frye 2,892 1.0
Democratic Louis "Lou" Davis 2,824 1.0
West Virginia gubernatorial election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 472,758 63.5
Republican Monty Warner 253,131 33.6
Mountain Jesse Johnson 18,430 2
West Virginia gubernatorial Democratic primary election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 264,775 74.62
Democratic Melvin Ray Kessler 90,074 25.38
West Virginia gubernatorial election, 2008[76]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 493,246 69.77
Republican Russ Weeks 181,908 25.73
Mountain Jesse Johnson 31,515 4.46
United States Senate special Democratic primary election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 68,287 73.06
Democratic Ken Hechler 16,267 17.27
Democratic Sheirl Lee Fletcher 9,108 9.67
United States Senate special election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 280,771 53.5
Republican John Raese 227,960 43.4
Mountain Jesse Johnson 10,048 1.9
Constitution Jeff Becker 6,366 1.2
United States Senate Democratic primary election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 163,891 79.94
Democratic Sheirl Fletcher 41,118 20.06
United States Senate election in West Virginia, 2012[23]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 391,669 60.49
Republican John Raese 236,620 36.54
Mountain Bob Henry Baber 19,232 2.97


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  71. O'Keefe, Ed (December 7, 2012). "Joe Manchin objects to MTV's 'Buckwild' reality show". Washington Post.
  72. "Joe Manchin sued by brother over loan". The Washingtion Times. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  73. Gallagher, Emily. "John Manchin drops lawsuit against two brothers". West Virginia Press Association. The Times West Virginian. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  74. "2008 Gubernatorial General Election Results, West Virginia". US Election Atlas. November 4, 2008. Retrieved December 30, 2010.

Further reading



Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joe Manchin.
Political offices
Preceded by
Ken Hechler
Secretary of State of West Virginia
Succeeded by
Betty Ireland
Preceded by
Bob Wise
Governor of West Virginia
Succeeded by
Earl Ray Tomblin
Preceded by
Jim Douglas
Chair of National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Christine Gregoire
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Wise
Democratic nominee for Governor of West Virginia
2004, 2008
Succeeded by
Earl Ray Tomblin
Preceded by
Robert Byrd
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from West Virginia
(Class 1)

2010, 2012
Most recent
Preceded by
Debbie Stabenow
Vice Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee

Taking office 2017
United States Senate
Preceded by
Carte Goodwin
United States Senator (Class 1) from West Virginia
Served alongside: Jay Rockefeller, Shelley Moore Capito
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Al Franken
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Chris Coons
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