Three of the biggest names in West Virginia Democratic politics will skip the Democratic National Convention this summer, once again highlighting President Obama’s rocky relationship with the state’s electorate.
But if Sen. Joe Manchin, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Rep. Nick Rahall — all Democrats — thought pulling out of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this September would earn them the respect of Republicans, they’re wrong.
Tomblin made it clear the decision was an Obama snub. Like Manchin, he’s refused to say whether he’s voting for Obama this November, and has publicly distanced himself from the president more than once.
“Gov. Tomblin has made the decision to not attend the Democratic National Convention,” said Tomblin campaign spokesperson Chris Stadelman. “As he has said, he has serious problems with both Gov. Romney and President Obama. The governor feels that his time is best spent working in West Virginia to move our state forward instead of attending a four-day political rally in North Carolina.”
Machin didn’t mention the president in his statement announcing he won’t attend the convention.
“I intend to spend this fall focused on the people of West Virginia, whether that’s representing them in my official U.S. Senate duties or here at home, where I can hear about their concerns and ideas to solve the problems of this great nation,” he said. “I will remain focused on bringing people together for the next generation, not the next election.”
Manchin and Tomblin face re-election fights in the fall, as does Rahall.
Rahall has said on record he will vote for Obama in November. Not that it will matter much: Mitt Romney’s expected to win the state handily. A virtually unknown federal inmate earned more than 40 percent of the vote in the recent Democratic West Virginia primary, suggesting primary voters in the state were less than thrilled thrilled with the current Democratic president. But Rahall’s decision to skip the convention didn’t earn him much praise from Republicans.
“Rahall may have realized his re-election chances are sinking but hiding from Obama’s convention won’t change Rahall’s record of supporting President Obama and his job-destroying agenda more than 82 percent of the time in Congress,” said Nat Sillin, spokesperson for the NRCC.
The state Republican Party told TPM the trio’s decision to skip the convection won’t earn any toned-down treatment from the GOP.
“Absolutely not,” said West Virginia GOP Executive Director Chad Holland.
“The fact that they’re running and hiding from the Democrat convention when everybody knows that the only reason they’re doing it is so they don’t have to answer the question yet of who they support for president shows a profound lack of leadership,” he said. “West Virginia has serious problems and it needs serious men and women to resolve these problems. And if you can’t step up and say you support for president, I don’t know how we can trust you to solve the problems facing fellow West Virginians.”