A Democratic-aligned group has been running ads in West Virginia attacking federal coal mining regulations in support of Sen. Joe Manchin’s 2018 re-election campaign.
The move has environmentalists fuming. A coalition of activists sent a petition with 157,000 signatures to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Thursday asking them to stop running ads that attack “clean water.”
Majority Forward, a group affiliated with the Democratic Senate Majority PAC, purchased $4.5 million in TV ads to support Manchin’s re-election. These ads highlight Manchin’s support for coal miners, including his standing up to federal “anti-coal regulations.”
“When Washington proposed anti-coal regulations, Joe Manchin said ‘no,'” the ad says.
The ad points to a February local news report on the passage of a bill introduced by Manchin to repeal the Stream Protection Rule, which the Obama administration finalized in late 2016.
Critics say the rule was duplicative and would force layoffs in the coal industry. President Donald Trump signed legislation to repeal the rule in February. Manchin attended the signing ceremony
Senate Majority PAC’s goal is to “take back the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate,” according to its website. Schumer confidant J.B. Poersch heads the PAC.
Manchin is seen as a vulnerable seat in the 2018 mid-term elections since his state overwhelmingly supported Trump in the 2016 election. Majority Forward’s ad plays to the rural, pro-coal base that turned out in huge numbers to support Trump.
Left-wing environmentalists don’t like it.
“Sen. Schumer and his allies should be engaging in total resistance against Trump, not providing cover for Sen. Manchin’s attacks on progressive values.” said Josh Nelson, the deputy political director of CREDO, one of the liberal groups behind the petition.
Manchin is one of the few Trump-friendly Democrats in the Senate, supporting part of the president’s energy agenda. Trump reportedly considered Manchin for Secretary of Energy before settling on former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Manchin is being challenged from the right and left in the 2018 election. Paula Swearengin, an environmental activist who comes from a coal mining family, is seeking the Democratic nomination for 2018.
West Virginia Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins announced in May he would challenge Manchin in 2018.
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