U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Of the 34 Senate seats up for grabs this November, 26 of them are currently held by Democrats.
And of those, at least nine are considered competitive, depending on who's doing the counting. Five of those are in states that went for Trump in 2016 by 18% or more, which means those Dem incumbents have a tough electoral row to hoe. But of all the endangered Senate Democrats, none of them is threatened more than West Virginia's Joe Manchin.
You probably remember Joe. He's the formerly NRA A-rated candidate who, while running for the Senate in a 2010 special election, professed his staunch support for the Second Amendment while pledging to “repeal the bad parts of Obamacare.” In a famous commercial, he drove home his pro-gun bona fides by putting a bullet hole center mass in a draft of the cap and trade bill his party was pushing at the time that would have devastated West Virginia's coal industry.
What did Joe do when he was elected? Following the Sandy Hook shooting, he opposed the NRA — which had supported him in both 2010 and 2012 — by partnering with Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey to push the Manchin-Toomey universal background check bill. But despite solid Democrat control of the Senate, the legislation crashed and burned when four other rural state Democrats voted against it.
“I did what I thought was the right thing for our country. I sought out a compromise position that I thought could move the ball forward on an important matter of public safety,” he said in a statement….
Oh, and just for good measure, he also voted in lockstep with the rest of his fellow Senate Dems against the bill that included an Obamacare mandate repeal, too.
It's almost as if the Senator from the Mountain State will say and do anything on any issue in order to get elected, then falls dutifully in line with his fellow Democrats when it comes time to vote on legislation.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that his party's leadership has a shock collar around his neck to keep him in line.
West Virginia is a blue collar state whose coal industry was ravaged by eight years of Obama-era EPA regulatory hyperactivity. It's been trending ever-more red in presidential elections this century and went for Trump in 2016. Bigly.
That means big trouble for Senator Joe this fall.
Given his record and the state's electoral trends, what can West Virginians — and gun owners — expect from Manchin in the next nine months? Expect him to distance himself from both parties, all the better to portray himself as an independent outsider and run against Washington itself, someone West Virginians can trust (despite having been in D.C. for the last eight years).
Also, look for Manchin to develop a newfound respect for the Second Amendment. He'll hope that West Virginians will forget that he slammed the NRA as a bunch of corporate shills after they opposed him on universal background checks and attacked him for promoting gun control. He'll also be betting that home state memories are too short to remember that none other than Michael Bloomberg held a fund raiser for him following the Manchin-Toomey bill's defeat.
He'll be asking Mountain State voters not to believe what they've seen with their lying eyes during his first two terms and listen to what he's saying to them now. We're betting they won't be fooled again.
About Dan Zimmerman: