Senator Joe Manchin Welcomes Primary Challenge from Progressives

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin invited Bernie Sanders supporters to mount a primary challenge against him in a Friday phone call with West Virginians, according to a recording of the call viewed by POLITICO.

The sometimes contentious, roughly 15-minute conversation was largely focused on the prospect of Manchin scheduling a town hall for his constituents — an idea he said he was open to, while also repeatedly asking what the objective would the town hall conversation got chippy — and activists on the call brought up points of disagreement with the senator — Manchin exclaimed, “What you ought to do is vote me out. Vote me out! I’m not changing. Find somebody else who can beat me and vote me out."


POLITICO covered this contentious moment late last week, when progressive activists and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin sparred over holding a town hall.

It’s not just Republicans that progressive activists are targeting in town halls or demanding town halls from. Only nine Republicans- most of them in deep red states- face the voters, while over half their conference faces theirs in November. Several of them, like Joe Manchin, are facing electorates that voted for President Trump by overwhelming margins, and have cast a lot of conservative votes to keep their general electorate satistfied. In final confirmation votes, he has only opposed three of the President’s choices: Betsy DeVos, Tom Price, and Mick Mulvaney. The Senator may appear cocky here, but he has the election data to back him up: he received more votes in his 2012 re-election than any Democratic Presidential candidate has in forty years. A challenger could appear, but the state’s overwhelmingly conservative bent would spell doom if it came from the left: the only person to defeat Manchin in any primary was progressive Charlotte Pritt in the 1996 Gubernatorial primary. Mrs. Pritt would go on to be the only Democrat to lose statewide that year in the general election, back when the state still voted mostly Democratic.