PARKERSBURG - An officer with the Republican National Committee on Friday invited Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to become a Republican.
"I invite Joe to join the winning team," Sharon Day, a co-chairman of the RNC, said Friday in an interview with The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
Jonathan Kott, Manchin's communications director, commented on behalf of the senator.
Ward Wyatt, left, executive director of the West Virginia Republican Party, gestures during an interview with Sharon Day, a co-chairman of the Republican National Committee. Day invited Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to join the Republican Party. (Photo by Jess Mancini)
"Sen. Manchin is a compassionate, proud and responsible life-long West Virginia Democrat who is focused on commonsense solutions to move this country forward and always will be," Kott said. "Like most West Virginians, he does not believe that party labels define who you are, and he will always put his state and country ahead of extreme partisan politics."
Manchin is a former governor and secretary of state who in the U.S. Senate has sided with the Republican minority, working with Republican colleagues on legislation and recently was the only Democrat to vote against the nominee for director of the Environmental Protection Agency.
"I'll invite him right now," Day said.
West Virginia values are more in line with the Republican Party than they are with the Democrats, Day said.
The national committee has been putting more emphasis in West Virginia since 2000 when George W. Bush carried the state in the presidential election. Republicans since then have been elected to the state Supreme Court, Congress in the 1st District, attorney general, and the party is expecting to soon be the majority party in the House of Delegates, possibly with the 2014 elections.
It's been a long time coming, according to Ward Wyatt, executive director of the state Republican Party. Wyatt accompanied Day on Friday.
The most recent noteworthy switch to the Republican Party was state Sen. Evan Jenkins of Cabell County. Jenkins, who was a Republican before becoming a Democrat, will run for the U.S. House of Representatives where Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall represents the 3rd District.
"It's a perfect example," Wyatt said.
Rahall is vulnerable, Wyatt said. The EPA's attack on coal is a reason why, Day said.
The committee supports Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, who announced she will run for the U.S. Senate in 2014, Day said. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat, said he will not run for re-election.
The lack of a high-profile Democrat to announce their candidacy for the Senate in 2014 speaks volumes, Day said.
Day was in Parkersburg on Friday for a fundraiser before going to Huntington to meet with Republicans from Marshall University, attend a function at the Republican headquarters and participate in the Women of Excellence in the Republican Party program.