Republicans are reportedly in the midst of drawing up an incentive package that could potentially convince West Virginia Senator-elect Joe Manchin, currently the state's conservative Democratic governor, to jump ship and place an "R" next to his name.The response from a Manchin advisor seemed a bit ambiguous.
Fox News reports Monday:
Aside from his pick of committee assignments (likely the Energy and Natural Resources Committee), Manchin might get support for one of his pet projects - a plant to convert coal to diesel fuel that has stalled under Democratic leadership in Washington.If Manchin were to switch parties, the action would come with a promise of $1 billion in start-up funds for the coal conversion operation, as well as the important political significance of being able to campaign for reelection in 2012 against Barack Obama, who is currently highly unpopular in West Virginia.
Perhaps more importantly, it would tighten the Senate power balance, widening prospects for a 50-50 numerical stalemate (ties could be broken by Vice President Biden, however) if Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) were to decide to caucus with Republicans as well.
In my opinion, I think that it is extremely hypocritical for the Republicans to try such a maneuver - remember their attack against Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter? Should Manchin jump ship, I doubt he would be a GOP sure thing but I also think he would never be able to win reelection with the stigma of a flip-flopper. I'm sure he was only able to win because he was a Democrat with crossover appeal. Should he become a full-blown Republican, his Democratic support would shift to another candidate - he may put up a fight in the primaries but I think the general election may do him in.
I would be willing to classify Manchin as a moderate - a right-leaning moderate, and his views are exactly why I believe it is important for legislators to move closer to the center - not to one extreme or the other. Manchin won because he was a conservative Democrat (simply put) which broadened his base. Moving farther to the right would only narrow his support...