West Virginia voters chose to send U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin back to Capitol Hill for a full six-year term Tuesday, rejecting a GOP effort to derail his bid by appealing to the state’s low regard for President Obama.
A Democrat like Obama, Manchin campaigned as an independent voice for the state who has disagreed with the president over such issues as coal, federal spending and the national debt. Courting the tea party vote, GOP nominee John Raese argued that Manchin has helped the Democrats maintain a majority in the Senate that has allowed Obama to pursue his agenda.
Manchin overcame both Raese and Mountain Party candidate Bob Henry Baber.
“I think the people know me. They know that I fight for West Virginia, and I love every human being in this state,” Manchin told The Associated Press. “I love this country. We need to come together.”
In a state where he suffers some of his lowest approval ratings, Obama lost West Virginia’s five electoral votes as he did in 2008, this time to Republican Mitt Romney. Manchin called for the eventual winner of the national race to launch an immediate 50-state “healing tour,” starting in West Virginia.
“I’m just so committed to that. We just need to reach out,” Manchin said. “Forget about our party politics. Start thinking about our future.”