As Politico described back in February:
The conference call, which involved several political activists, was recorded by one of the activists, and Manchin can be heard responding to various questions and challenges.
But as the town hall conversation got chippy — and activists on the call brought up points of disagreement with the senator — Manchin exclaimed, “What you ought to do is vote me out. Vote me out! I’m not changing. Find somebody else who can beat me and vote me out."
“Is that an invitation or a threat? I don’t understand,” responded one of the activists.
If it was an invitation, Manchin got his wish -- earlier this month, Paula Swearengin announced her candidacy. Here is the New Republic's description of her:
Paula Swearengin, 42, is an accounting clerk and single mother of four from Coal City, West Virginia. On May 9, she announced that she would challenge Manchin in the Democratic primary. She is a newcomer to politics and an early beneficiary of Brand New Congress, a political action committee founded by former members of Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.
Swearengin herself recently appeared in a March televised town hall with Sanders and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, where she appealed to Sanders for help with the state’s environmental woes.
The New Republic link has a short interview with her as does this article from The Intercept:
To Swearengin, West Virginia’s historic dependence on the coal industry has created an impossible choice for the people of the state. “We’ve been bid against each other for basic human rights,” she explained. “There’s no reason that people should have to worry about putting food on the table for their children and clean water. Appalachians are strong. We’re better than that. So my path to primary Joe Manchin is to fight back. Fight back for my community. Fight back for my neighbors, my family, my friends.”
She confronted Manchin over water pollution at a town hall last March, earning applause when she denounced the fossil fuel industry.
Her platform is built around offering West Virginians an alternative to the coal industry’s stranglehold over the state’s economy, framing this as delivering”economic freedom.” It includes support for tuition-free college, Medicare for All, and investment in infrastructure.
The Intercept asked her how she could expect to win in a state that voted heavily for Donald Trump:
Swearengin views Trump’s election as part of a larger problem in politics in her state: that Democrats and Republicans have converged in ideology and are no longer offering meaningful choices. “The thing that aggravates me the most about the Republicans and the Democrats in this state, they’re all the same. One of the biggest polluting coal barons in West Virginia, Jim Justice, is my Democratic governor,” she explained. “That’s another reason that I decided to run for office. Because he’s my governor, he’s blowing silica dust three miles from my house into my children’s lungs. But he’s a Democrat. He’s a Democrat. But he’s basically a Republican.”
Swearengin's description of the parties could also include our last senatorial election in 2014 when both Capito and Tennant were indistinguishable on almost every issue (especially coal). Swearengin's candidacy looks to raise a number of issues that need to be discussed and hopefully she will be able to get around West Virginia's dominant media that only provide coverage to the established candidates from the Republican and Republican-lite parties.
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