The Republican party wasted no time attacking Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia’s solitary high-level Democratic politician, after the governor announced he would switch parties Thursday.
Gov. Jim Justice announced his decision to change his registration to Republican at a rally for President Donald Trump Thursday, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee already has an ad criticizing Manchin for sticking with the Democrats.
“The Democratic Party has walked away from West Virginia, but Joe Manchin continues to rub elbows with the likes of Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and Nancy Pelosi in Washington, D.C.,” Bob Salera, spokesman for the NRSC, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.
“It’s clear Joe Manchin has lost touch with West Virginians, and voters are not likely to forgive his continued membership in the party that abandoned them when they head to the polls next year.”
Manchin’s decision to stick with the Democratic Party means that he has “lost touch with West Virginia,” the NRSC claims in a new ad that will run on Facebook this month.
Before news of Justice’s defection to the Republican party, Manchin released a statement that he was excited for Trump’s visit, and looking forward to working with the president on tax reform and infrastructure. (RELATED: West Virginia Democrat ‘Excited’ Trump Coming To His State)
“I have been and always will be a proud West Virginia Democrat,” Manchin said in response to Justice’s party switch. “While I do not agree with his decision, I have always said that I will work with anyone, no matter their political affiliation, to do what is best for the people of West Virginia,” Manchin said.
Justice, who once was an Independent, then a Republican, then was elected governor as a Democrat in 2016, said the Democrats left him, not the other way around. “I tell you as West Virginians, I can’t help you anymore being a Democrat governor,” Justice said Thursday.
Fox News and others reported rumors that Manchin would switch parties if the Senate was split after the Nov. 8 election. Manchin vehemently denied the rumor, and it was never put to the test since runoff elections gave the Republicans 52 seats in the Senate.
Manchin is up for re-election in 2018, and while the Democratic Party looks significantly weaker after Trump won the state with 68 percent of the vote, Manchin still has favorable approval ratings. He also won his Senate seat as an incumbent with a comfortable 60 percent of the vote in 2012, even though West Virginia went Republican to vote for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney that year.
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