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Sun Jun 6, 2021, 02:20 AM

What Joe Manchin's constituents think of his bipartisanship [View all]

Story by Dan Merica, CNN
Updated 9:05 AM ET, Sat June 5, 2021

Farmington, West Virginia (CNN)When Joe Manchin was in the fight of his political life, vying for reelection in a state where being a Democrat had long been out of fashion, the senator's opening message to voters focused on the place he knew best: Farmington, West Virginia.

Manchin argued throughout his last reelection campaign that it was his upbringing in the small Appalachian town set on the banks of Buffalo Creek -- from working at his family's local grocery store to watching how relationships in his hometown transcended political lines -- that helped make him a politician who would listen to even his most ardent detractors and use his power to make sure every bipartisan avenue was exhausted before he picked the best option for the people of his state.

That persona has served Manchin well, to date. He's survived election after election in this increasingly Republican bastion to become the most conservative Democrat in an evenly divided Senate -- a role that allows him to put his stamp on anything his party wants to accomplish, which includes just about everything these days. Manchin has wielded this influence to change the coronavirus relief package, force Democrats to try and work with Republicans on infrastructure and squash any talk of getting rid of Senate rules that would make it easier for the Democrats, currently in the majority, to pass President Joe Biden's agenda. But back home, Manchin is facing a set of opposing forces. Republicans in the state, loyal to former President Donald Trump and consumed with the partisan politics of the moment, have grown annoyed at how Manchin signals a willingness to break with Democrats but often votes with the party in the end. And many Democrats in the state, worn down by years of Republican domination, worry that Manchin's undying focus on bipartisanship is no longer possible when the Republican Party is unwilling to meet in the middle.

This tension has forced the tenets of Manchin's personal and political story to run up against a changing world....
His while career has been built trying to find common ground with Republicans, even when Democrats dominated WV--it's unclear whether he would ever change, even though both Democrats and Republicans are often dissatisfied with his approach.

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