Joe Manchin III

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Joseph Anthony (Joe) Manchin III (born August 24, 1947 in Farmington, West Virginia) was elected Governor of West Virginia in the 2004 election and took office on January 17, 2005. He is a member of the Democratic Party and the scion of a large Democratic political family in West Virginia.

Early life

Manchin entered West Virginia University on a football scholarship in 1965. An injury in practice ended his football career before it really began. He graduated in 1970 with a degree in business administration. He then became involved in several family owned businesses.

Early political career

He was elected to the West Virginia Legislature beginning with the House of Delegates in 1982 and moving to the Senate in 1986 where he served until 1996. As a Senator he heard (along with A. James's son and Joe's cousin, Senator Mark Anthony Manchin) the impeachment trial of his uncle, A. James Manchin, then the State Treasurer, but his uncle resigned the day that the trial began. A. James Manchin died on November 2, 2003.

In 1996, Manchin was a candidate for governor, but finished second among a large group of candidates in the Democratic primary election. He then ran for state Secretary of State in 2000, winning easily.

Term as Governor

He announced his intention to challenge incumbent governor Bob Wise in the 2004 Democratic Primary in May 2003. Eventually Wise decided not to run for re-election, becoming the first governor not to do so since the practice was permitted in 1972. Manchin then won both the primary and general election by large margins. His election marks the first time that two persons of the same political party have followed one another in the governor's office since 1964. As Governor, he is a member of the National Governors Association, the Southern Governors' Association, and Vice Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Manchin is considered a moderate by Democratic standards and received national attention for his opposition to abortion as a Roman Catholic.

Much political speculation has surrounded Manchin's possible response should Senator Robert C. Byrd be unable to serve out a full term, but Manchin has consistently refused to comment on the subject. Should the senator die during his term, Manchin would have the responsibility of appointing a replacement.

In July 2005, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship sued Governor Manchin alleging that he violated his first amendment rights by threatening to retaliate with increased government scrutiny of his coal operations. Blankenship poured substantial amounts of money into a campaigns to defeat the pension bond amendment and prevent the re-election of Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw. He also fought against an increase in the severance tax. Soon after the defeat of the pension bond amendment, the Division of Environmental Protection 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 claims that the DEP's action was in response to his opposition to the bond amendment.

During the 2006 Sago Mine disaster of early January 2006, Manchin initially appeared to confirm reports that 12 miners had survived. These reports proved to be incorrect three hours later, when it was confirmed that only one miner survived the accident. In an early-morning press conference on January 4, Governor Manchin acknowledged that an unintentional miscommunication had occurred with rescue teams within the mine. Manchin stated that the incorrect information he received regarding the status of the miners was not received through official channels. He did not confirm the story, the press assumed he did. No one is aware how the story was confirmed.

His handling of the Sago mine disaster may have enhanced his popularity. In November 2006, SurveyUSA ranked him as one of the most popular governors in the country with a 74% approval rating [1]

On February 1, 2006, Manchin ordered a stop to all coal production in the state of West Virginia pending safety checks after two more miners were killed that day in separate accidents [2]. A total of 16 West Virginia coal miners died from mining accidents in early 2006.

On April 15, 2006, during an Easter visit to U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq, Manchin caused a controversy by posing for photographers while signing two missiles at Balad Air Force Base. One of the messages read "Sending you to hell, from Almost Heaven, West Virginia." He explained his intentions to the media saying, "I just thought, 'Hey, these are people doing tremendous harm to our people.' I wanted to send them a little message." [3] After receiving several complaints, Manchin issued an apology.

On May 13, 2006, Manchin delivered the commencement address to the 299 graduates of Wheeling Jesuit University, where he was also presented with an honorary degree.

In light of the publicity he has received since the Sago Mine disaster, many media outlets have speculated that Manchin is considering a run at the Presidency (or at least consideration for a Vice-Presidential nod). Manchin, however, refuses to comment on such speculation.[4]

Electoral History

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West Virginia Gubernatorial Election 2004
Yes or no Votes Percentage


External links