Dem. Senator Manchin Faces Firestorm At Home Following Kavanaugh Vote


Danielle Walker cried on Joe Manchin’s shoulder after she shared her story of assault in the senator’s office. She thought he listened.

The 42-year-old Morgantown woman said she was both devastated and furious when Manchin became the only Democrat in the U.S. Senate to support President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

“I feel abused all over again,” Walker told The Associated Press.

A day after Manchin broke with his party on what may be the most consequential vote of the Trump era, the vulnerable Democrat is facing a political firestorm back home. While Republicans — including one of the president’s sons — are on the attack, the most passionate criticism is coming from Manchin’s very own Democratic base, a small but significant portion of the electorate he needs to turn out in force to win re-election next month. A Manchin loss would put his party’s hopes of regaining control of the Senate virtually out of reach.

Walker, a first-time Democratic candidate for the state legislature, said she may not vote at all in the state’s high-stakes Senate election. Julia Hamilton, a 30-year-old educator who serves on the executive committee of the Monongalia County Democratic Party, vowed to sit out the Senate race as well.

“At some point you have to draw a line,” Hamilton said. “I have heard from many, many people — especially women. They won’t be voting for Manchin either.”

Manchin defended his vote in a Sunday interview as being based on fact, not emotion. He praised the women who shared their stories of sexual trauma, Walker among them, but said he “could not find any type of link or connection” that Kavanaugh was a rapist.

“They weren’t going to be satisfied, or their healing process, until we convicted this person,” Manchin told The Associated Press. “I couldn’t do it. You talk about two wrongs trying to make a right. It just wasn’t in my heart and soul to do that.”

Manchin insisted over and over that his vote wasn’t based on politics.

There is little doubt, however, that his vote was in line with the wishes of many West Virginia voters, who gave Trump a victory in 2016 by 42 percentage points. There simply aren’t enough Democrats in the state to re-elect Manchin. He needs a significant chunk of Trump’s base to win.

One West Virginia Trump supporter, 74-year-old Linda Ferguson, explained the politics bluntly as she watched the parade at Saturday’s Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins.

“If he didn’t vote for Kavanaugh he could have kissed his seat goodbye,” Ferguson said.

While he may have represented the majority of his state, Manchin’s political challenges are far from over.

The clash over Kavanaugh, who was confirmed by the Senate on Saturday, has injected new energy into each party’s political base. While that may help Democrats in their fight for the House majority, which is largely taking place in America’s suburbs, there are signs it’s hurting vulnerable Democrats in rural Republican-leaning states like North Dakota, Missouri and West Virginia. Phil Bredesen, who said he would have voted for Kavanaugh, could also face new challenges in his bid to flip Tennessee’s Senate seat to the Democratic column.

For much of the year, Manchin has held a significant lead in public and private polls over his Republican opponent, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Yet Republican operatives familiar with the race report a definite tightening over the last week.

In an interview, Morrisey called Democrats’ fight against Kavanaugh a “three-ring circus” that “energized a lot of people in West Virginia.”

He acknowledged that Manchin voted the right way for the state, but called the vote “irrelevant” because another swing vote, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, had already given Kavanaugh the final vote he needed.

“He waited until the last possible minute after Susan Collins declared for him to take a position, effectively allowing Maine to decide how West Virginia’s going to decide,” Morrisey charged. “We shouldn’t reward that kind of cowardice.”

Echoing the attack, Donald Trump Jr., mockingly called Manchin “a real profile in courage” on Twitter.

When asked about the social media jab, the West Virginia senator slapped away the insult from the younger Trump.

Donald Trump Jr. is “entitled to his opinion, he’s just not entitled to his own facts to justify what he’s saying. He doesn’t really know anything,” Manchin told the AP.

The Democrat conceded that he followed Collins’ lead out of “respect” — he didn’t want to get in the way of her high-profile Friday afternoon announcement on the Senate floor.

“Nothing would have changed my vote,” Manchin declared. “Susan took the lead, Susan did the due diligence. … She’s going to give her speech and I’m not going to jump in front of 3 o’clock. I’m just not going to do it.”

That wasn’t good enough for Tammy Means, a 57-year-old florist from Charleston, who was among thousands tailgating outside West Virginia University’s football stadium in Morgantown on Saturday.

Means, a registered Democrat who voted for Trump, said she also voted for Manchin in the past.

“I’m not going to anymore. Nope,” she said with a laugh as she sipped a Smirnoff Ice. She’s glad Manchin voted for Kavanaugh, but said, “He’s just doing it so he can get elected.”

Across the parking lot, 63-year-old John Vdovjac said he was deeply disappointed by Manchin’s vote. Still, the Democrat said he’d probably vote for Manchin this fall.

“I recognize the position he’s in because the state’s heavily Republican now,” said Vdovjac, a retired educator from Wheeling, as he helped grill hotdogs and hamburgers. “But he’s lost my loyalty.

Manchin knows he needs to explain his vote to his constituents, although he didn’t have any public events scheduled this weekend. Before and after the AP interview, conducted at Charleston’s International House of Pancakes, he told everyone who would listen — including his waitress — that his Kavanaugh vote was not based on emotion.

“I made my decision based on facts,” the senator told Kevin Estep, a 57-year-old registered Democrat and Trump voter who was eating buttered pancakes with his family.

“You hang in there and vote your heart,” Estep, who lives in nearby St. Albans, told the senator.

After Manchin left the building, Estep warned that the #MeToo movement “is like a dam that’s about to break open.”

Asked whether he’d support Manchin this fall, he responded, “Always.”



  1. Don’t believe everything the AP says.

    West Virginia is probably the most “deplorable” state in the nation. It is unlikely the hard core lefties in West Virginia will threated to derail the “blue wave” but not voting for Manchin no matter how mad they are about him not following the party line. However by reflecting the view of most of his voters, he increases his chance of being reelected.

  2. I consider myself an advocate for victims. This includes certain things, but excludes other things.

    There is a push, consistent with today’s “feel good” society, perhaps paired with sympathy for victims that yields a seriously questionable result. It is the belief that “anything that makes the (self-declared) victim feel good is the public responsibility to provide”. In the case of abuse victims (survivors), it may mean convicting and incarcerating the perpetrator. Now, I have no problem with the notion of “doing the crime – do the time”. But this revenge on the perpetrator has zero true benefit to the health of the victim. I dare anyone to cite research that indicates this. It will make the victim happy. But is that the pubic’s responsibility?

    The Kavanaugh issue was very different. There was a huge issue of believability. There was much about the Ford testimony, the series of events leading up to the revelation, the history of several aspects of this situation that made all statements questionable. There was clear partisan politics mixed in, and that casts much doubt on the veracity of everything. Was there a true victim? Perhaps not. Was Kavanaugh involved? It seems that he was probably not. The liberal left wants us to throw away the truth in favor of making a self-declared victim happy. That position, that denigrates truth in favor of supporting blind following of uncorroborated accusations must be fought by anyone with moral fiber.

    I applaud this senator for basing his vote on the real issues, not the PC ones. Sadly, the other Democrats lack that moral fiber, and prefer to push their liberal agenda over morality and truth. I wish them all a speedy retirement.

  3. The little I know, you summed it up perfectly.
    When those in the office asked where I stood, I responded that there were points of Ford I believed and points of Kavannagh I believed. Because I wasn’t 100% (emphasis on one hundred) confident, I must go with the Torah, legal, and ethical concept of innocent before proven guilty. There wasn’t enough to 100% prove guilt for me.

  4. 1:

    What do you mean with your comment? The Torah is specific about what qualifies testimony, who can testify, and how to verify that there is truth being spoken. Check it out.

    The accuser is not a witness, nor is the accused. They are the litigants, a.k.a. the Baalei Din. As for litigants, there is an issue of believability. I draw your attention to the phrase: כפי ראות עיני הדיין.

    There is a burden of proof when one is challenging a חזקה of kashrus. In this instance, that refers to innocence. If there was any corroboration to Ford’s complaint, it may have been inadequate for court purposes, but the issue here is one of character. Teenage drinking 36 years ago does not qualify as a statement about one’s character. Assault does. But the very witnesses Ford named could not corroborate her story at all. Believing a victim? Who says that Ford is a victim altogether? All the Dems can say is that they wish it were true. Meanwhile, the believability points are skewed in favor of Kavanaugh – overwhelmingly.

    Lastly, in our Batei Din, we are required to follow Torah Law, a.k.a. Halacha. The Senate or a secular court has no such requirement.

  5. Clear and convincing is the torah requirement.
    There wasn’t even a ponderanice of the evidence.
    Dr. Ford was presenting richilus and mottzei shem rah