By Ben Wynd
Joseph Manchin III has been a leading force in West Virginia politics for the last four decades. A democrat, Manchin served in the house of delegates, state senate, secretary of state, governor, and is now West Virginia’s senior senator. West Virginia was a democratic stronghold in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but became increasingly conservative after the 1996 presidential election and now votes for republicans in landslide-like margins. Joe Manchin is an exception to this sweeping trend. He’s a democrat that got reelected in 2018 in a state that gave Donald Trump almost 70 percent of the vote in 2016. This comes at the cost of him holding traditionally liberal views. He has a mixed past on abortion rights, judge confirmations, and government spending, which make him notorious for being the most conservative Democrat in the senate. However, without him, the Democrats would not have the senate majority right now. His decisions will be influential in working with the more liberal democrats to shape the Biden presidency. He may be the deciding vote on a slew of issues, meaning he’ll be able to shape a bill to his liking for him to cast a “yes” vote. The next two years of the 117th congress will be tumultuous due to Democrats’ thin majorities in both congressional chambers, and Joe Manchin will be a key player in all of it.