Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is in many ways the linchpin for his party’s goals.
With the Senate split 50-50, Manchin is often seen as the Democrat most likely to sink one of President Joe Biden’s nominees. He is also seen as most likely to sink bills that Democrats want to pass via reconciliation. In addition, as one of the two most bipartisan members of the Senate, Manchin often works with Republicans like Maine Sen. Susan Collins to pass legislation.
Here are some more facts about Joe Manchin.
Comes from a political family
Manchin’s father, Joe Manchin, Jr., was the mayor of Farmington, West Virginia, where he grew up. His uncle, A. James Manchin, served multiple terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates, was an appointed member of the administration of John F. Kennedy, and was later elected West Virginia Secretary of State and Treasurer.
Manchin’s wife, Gayle Conelly Manchin, formerly the West Virginia Secretary of Education, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on April 29 to be co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. Gayle was sanctioned by China for her previous role as Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). (RELATED: Biden Nominates Gayle Manchin, Joe Manchin’s Wife, For ‘Key’ Co-Chair Of Federal Commission)
China imposes sanctions on….Tony Perkins and Gayle Manchin, the wife of Joe, over their work for U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom https://t.co/Q2LDHcuGg7
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) March 27, 2021
Played college football
Manchin attended West Virginia University on a full scholarship to play football. He described the offer as “one of the greatest thrills of my life,” in a 2020 interview with the Times West Virginian. A quarterback, he was coached by College Football Hall of Famer Bobby Bowden when Bowden was West Virginia’s offensive coordinator. After Manchin suffered a serious knee injury in a scrimmage, he served as the Mountaineers’ backup punter.
Manchin is also friends with NFL Hall of Famer Sam Huff, who played linebacker for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. Both men attended Farmington High School, although Huff is thirteen years older.
Manchin was on hand to give Huff the Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company’s Hometown Hall of Famer award in 2012.
“I remember clear back to 1954 when I was 7 years old, my dad used to take all of us to see Sam Huff play at WVU,” Manchin told the Times West Virginian.
Lives on a houseboat
When the Senate is in session, Manchin lives on a houseboat docked eight miles outside of Washington, D.C. “I wasn’t crazy on buying any real estate in Washington, not at all,” he told Time Magazine of the purchase in 2014.
Manchin frequently hosts pizza parties for his fellow senators on the boat. “Like a Tom Harkin and a Ted Cruz – when would you ever get them together in a room… [Chuck] Schumer loves it so much, the whole ambiance of it,” Manchin said at the time.
The boat is named “Almost Heaven,” as a reference to the John Denver song “Country Roads, Take Me Home.” Manchin can sail the boat up the Kanawha River to his home in Charleston, WV, but it would take him more than two weeks to do so, he told GQ in 2018.
Loves folk music
In addition to naming his boat after a John Denver song, Manchin’s favorite song is “S.O.B.,” by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, The Daily Beast reported.
Unafraid to take on his own party
Manchin, who is believed to run his own Twitter account, feuded with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after he tweeted, “Defund the police? Defund, my butt.”
Defund the police? Defund, my butt. I’m a proud West Virginia Democrat. We are the party of working men and women. We want to protect Americans’ jobs & healthcare. We do not have some crazy socialist agenda, and we do not believe in defunding the police. https://t.co/EIFHX5OQ37
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) November 11, 2020
In response, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted and deleted a photo of herself glaring at Manchin during then-President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address.
Manchin responded in a New York Times interview, “I’m understanding she’s not that active with her bills or in committee. She’s more active on Twitter than anything else.”