G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - State Dem Party Puts Tomblin, Manchin in Tight Spot
You have to give credit to the hundreds of delegates to the West Virginia Democratic Party convention in Charleston this weekend. They made it clear they support President Barack Obama and want him to serve another four years.
According to an account in the Charleston Gazette, the delegates approved a resolution saying all state and national candidates in West Virginia must publicly support and endorse all Democratic office holders, “including the head of our Democratic Party and our President, Barack Obama.“
The resolution said that it’s confusing to voters when candidates equivocate. (We’re looking at you, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin.)
Normally, only party activists pay any attention to platforms and resolutions. They’re relics from the days when greater political power rested with the party. Today, politics are more top down, with candidates using the media more than party infrastructure to generate support.
But the Obama resolution by the state Democratic Party is significant because Tomblin and Manchin have distanced themselves from this President. The administration’s stand on coal, and his unpopularity among a majority of their constituents, have caused Tomblin and Manchin to refuse to say whether they will vote for the President.
Tomblin has taken a “firmly undecided” position. He has said neither President Obama nor Republican challenger Mitt Romney has earned his support. Senator Manchin, meanwhile, has been more schizophrenic, seemingly shifting depending on the audience.
Now, however, their own party has put them in a box. The resolution adopted by the delegates requires them to publicly support a President whose policies are designed to bring an eventual end to coal mining, the state’s leading industry.
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney, who lost to Tomblin in last year’s special election by a mere 7,500 votes, couldn’t believe his good fortune. The Dems had hardly wrapped up their convention before the Maloney camp was firing off press releases.
“I have a simple question for Earl Ray; does he agree with his Party?“ asked Maloney.
Meanwhile, Republican Senate candidate John Raese* is stepping up his efforts to link Manchin to Obama. Raese has created a new ad for radio, TV and billboards called the “Gang of Four” where Raese blames Obama, Manchin, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and UMWA President Cecil Roberts for the EPA’s assault on the coal industry.
Friday, on Metronews Talkline, I spoke with convention delegate Dr. Coy Flowers from Lewisburg. Flowers is an enthusiastic Obama supporter and he welcomes the challenge to try to convince voters why he’s good for the country.
“I think when we come out of this weekend, you’re going to see an overwhelming majority of Democrats support the President and his plans,“ predicted Flowers.
I admire his optimism, however, the Democratic Party loyalists who journeyed to Charleston are not a true cross section of Democratic and Independent voters in West Virginia. The recent Primary Election, where unknown jailbird Keith Judd got 41% of the vote, proved that.
Normally, the West Virginia Democratic Party sails along like a large cruise ship, good times on a smooth journey. Party disagreements are diminished by the numbers advantages in registration and elected positions.
But the Obama presidency has accentuated the true divide that exists in the party between the liberal wing and those who are more moderate to conservative. And now, by their own hand, the Democratic Party has given Republicans an even greater opportunity to take political advantage of the split, especially in the key races for Governor and U.S. Senator.
(*In the interest of full disclosure, John Raese owns the Metronews Radio Network and I have contributed to his campaign.)