Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s name is once again being bandied about the White House as a possible Secretary of Energy. Accomplishing this would involve moving Rick Perry into another job, possibly replacing John Kelly at DHS, with the ultimate goal of allowing now-Republican Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia to select a replacement for Manchin:
If Manchin were offered and accepted the position, that would allow West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice — a newly minted Republican — to appoint a GOP successor and bring the party a vote closer in the Senate to being able to repeal Obamacare. The idea is in the early stages of consideration, and it’s unclear whether it has support within the administration, according to the people, who described the conversations under condition of anonymity.
A spokesman for Manchin declined to say whether the senator would take the Energy secretary job — currently held by former Texas Governor Rick Perry — if offered.
“Senator Manchin has not had any recent conversations with the Administration about the Secretary of Energy position. He remains committed to serving the people of West Virginia,” said Jonathan Kott.
I could easily see Perry being willing to take the job at DHS. That’s probably a better fit for him anyway. And there’s certainly some upside for Manchin taking this offer. He would avoid what is expected to be a difficult 2018 election in which he can no longer expect support from a Democratic Governor. He would also be able to use the position to push for some of the things he cares about, like keeping West Virginia coal miners employed. On the other hand:
This guy would instantly vault past Joe Lieberman to become the Democrat most hated by other Democrats https://t.co/q5jQqsKy0x
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) August 11, 2017
Yeah, there is that. Even if Manchin joined the administration as a Democrat, thereby formally maintaining his party allegiance, he would certainly be judged a traitor by “the resistance.” The fact that his move would wind up creating a new Republican Senator means that even if he’s spared the 2018 election, he wouldn’t be spared the anger of progressives across the country. If he’s okay with being called a “traitor” (something that would certainly happen) he could simply switch parties and stay in the Senate. The reaction from the left would be about the same.
While any rightward shift in the Senate’s balance of power would be treated as a win for the GOP, the idea that this would make a difference in passing the president’s legislative agenda (read: Obamacare repeal) seems like a stretch. Having one more yes vote only helps if the rest of the caucus is solidly behind you. But even if Manchin or his replacement were suddenly a solid yes for repeal, that might just lead to another Republican moderate defecting. I think the real advantage to a move like this is the despair it would create among Democrats hoping to retake the Senate in a year with a very tough map.