Many locals around here see Sen. Joe Manchin as one of them, so much so they greet the 30-year veteran of West Virginia politics by his first name more often than by his title.
But in the Senate, the 66-year-old upstart stands out as a rare breed: A back-slapping, gun-owning Democrat who attracts widespread support from working class whites in an increasingly Republican state.
There are some who think Sen. Joe Manchin is a Republican in disguise. There are still others who think he is in President Obama’s back pocket. Quite honestly, he’s neither.
In his short time in the U.S. Senate, Manchin has displayed great talent in bringing both sides of the political spectrum toward the middle. He is a centrist. He is an independent thinker who eschews party labels.
He says — and we believe him — that he was sent to Washington to help all people, not just Democrats.
Congress has the nation agreeing on one thing: 86 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, according to the latest Gallup poll.
While Americans expect political debates to be intense, what Americans are getting in Washington is dysfunction, where the politicians become so stubborn that both sides are willing to shut the government down rather than resolve their differences.
There has to be a better way and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is determined to find it by reaching out to Republicans.