Coal Association backs Manchin
In an election campaign that has been focused on who can represent West Virginia's coal interests better in Washington, Gov. Joe Manchin received a key endorsement on Thursday.
The West Virginia Coal Association endorsed Manchin in his bid for the U.S. Senate to fill out the term of the late Robert C. Byrd. The endorsement comes after Manchin's Republican opponent, John Raese, has run advertisements suggesting Manchin supports Cap and Trade legislation in Congress that the coal industry says could be crippling for business.
The endorsement praised Manchin's records on several points, including his opposition to President Obama administration's stance on coal.
"He has 'stood up' to his own party leadership when he thought it was wrong," the endorsement announcement said. "He has told President Obama several times, in face-to-face meetings, that he and his friends in Congress are wrong to villainize coal. The governor has championed our coal mining jobs and has worked tirelessly to break the EPA (Environmental Protection Administration) permit gridlock so that our mining operations can keep West Virginians working."
Raese's campaign, which has tried to paint Manchin as someone who would back Obama administration policies, did not release a statement on the endorsement Thursday.
The Republican has been gaining steam in the past few weeks. He was ahead 48 percent to Manchin's 46 percent in a Rasmussen Reports poll released this week. Last week, Raese was also ahead 46 percent to 43 percent in a Public Policy Polling poll. Some national campaign watchers are calling the race a toss-up.
Manchin's campaign praised Thursday's endorsement and issued a statement thanking the association, which supports the coal industry in West Virginia.
"Throughout my time in office, one of my top priorities has been to ensure that our coal industry continues to lead the way to our future energy independence; that is why I have repeatedly stood up to the Obama administration's cap and trade proposal that would cripple this vital piece of our economy," Manchin said in a release.
West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio also praised Manchin in a statement.
"Both the coal companies, and the United Mine Workers, have endorsed Governor Manchin based on his proven track record and their confidence in him to continue to fight for West Virginia in Washington," Puccio said in a release.
Manchin also has received endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association. Raese's endorsements include former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Minnesota's Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and West Virginians for Life.
Mountain Party member Jesse Johnson and Constitution Party member Jeff Becker are also candidates in the Nov. 2 special election to fill the Senate seat.