Manchin ‘is not switching parties’

MANCHIN ‘IS NOT SWITCHING PARTIES’…. As expected, a Fox News report on Senate Republicans trying to lure Sen.-elect Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to the GOP caused a stir yesterday afternoon. And as expected, the report appears to be fiction.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) on Monday evening batted down any suggestion that he is considering a party switch following his scheduled swearing-in next week as the Mountain State’s junior Senator.

Additionally, a Senate Republican leadership aide said GOP leaders made no such offer. Manchin and the Senate GOP aide were reacting to a FoxNews.com story posted earlier in the day. The report indicated that leaders were trying to entice Manchin to switch parties by offering sweeteners, such as support for favored legislation, and that he was considering the offer.

“Joe Manchin is a lifelong Democrat, and he is not switching parties. This is exactly what is wrong with Washington — individuals try to put politics before our nation,” said Melvin Smith, a spokesman in the governor’s office. “Joe Manchin wants to go to Washington to encourage Members of Congress to stop partisan bickering and start putting our nation’s needs at the forefront.”

And while Fox News quoted an unnamed “advisor” to Manchin, Derek Scarbro, the executive director of the West Virginia Democratic Party and a close Manchin ally, called the rumor “ridiculous.”

What’s more, I talked to someone active in Democratic West Virginia politics last night who reminded me that Manchin has no incentive to even consider an offer from the GOP, should he receive one — his victory last week was in a special election to fill the remainder of Robert Byrd’s term, and he’ll have to run again in 2012 for a full term. If Manchin tried to run as a Republican, he’d face a primary and lose to someone far more conservative. (The party could conceivably promise to support Manchin in a primary fight, but 2010 made clear that GOP leaders’ backing in Republican primaries is meaningless.)

Manchin won’t exactly be the Democrats’ most reliable ally, but the notion of him leaving the party altogether appears highly unlikely.

As for the piece that got tongues wagging, this is another reminder that it’s rarely wise to take Fox News “reporting” too seriously.