Senator Shelley Moore Capito
A couple of times a week, for most of the 7+ years that I have been doing this blog, I use a search engine to see what WV’s two senators and the area’s congressman have been doing. Until this year, the results were quite predictable. Joe Manchin was always making news, David McKinley would sometimes make news, and Shelley Moore Capito seldom made news beyond the puff pieces that Ogden reporters Jocelyn King and Steven Allen Adams would periodically write about her. (On a number of searches, I found that the search engine's top news listings were often weeks old.) In some ways, Capito was the anti-Manchin: low-key rather than attention-seeking, an introvert to Manchin’s constant search for the spotlight.
I’m not sure what happened -- perhaps it was her reelection or maybe she’s decided not to run in 2026. Whatever the reason, we now have Shelley 2.0 and the media can’t seem to get enough. Today, for instance, the Washington Post features her in a long news article:
West Virginia’s Capito emerges as central figure as Democrats, Republicans seek infrastructure deal
And over at Fox News, Capito has penned an op-ed attacking the Democrat’s voting rights legislation:
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito: Democrats' election power grab – S1 bill not For the People. Here's why
(A tweet by a former Republican communication director just called her "a rock star.")
Your highness, Senator Joe Manchin
Manchin appears to be relishing his new role as Most Important Senator. For example, Andy Kroll in yesterday's Rolling Stone analyzes the senator’s recent actions:
What Joe Manchin Wants
Kroll is probably correct when he begins:
Over the years, Manchin has milked this why-can’t-we-all-get-along act for all it’s worth. He’s able to do it because he’s always served in a divided government, when Democrats lacked the votes to do any actual legislating. In a way, he’s been able to play on everyone’s team because he wasn’t the critical vote on anything.
As Kroll further explains:
That changed on the night of January 5th, 2021. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock’s victories in Georgia meant Democrats would control the Senate by the slimmest of margins. Now, as the most moderate Democrat in the upper chamber, Manchin can be the decisive 50th vote on key pieces of the Biden policy agenda — or play the spoiler. He can help deliver the votes needed to reform or eliminate the filibuster — or insist, as he has so far, that negotiating with Republicans is a wiser path than changing the rules of the Senate. Either way, Manchin’s influence can’t be understated, and his colleagues know it. As one of them reportedly greeted him in the hallway of the Capitol: “Your highness.” “In a narrowly divided Senate, any one senator can be the king- or queenmaker,” says Jim Manley, a former aide to Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid. “He’s decided he wants to be the kingmaker.”
Now that he’s arguably the most powerful senator in America, it’s worth asking: What does Manchin want?
Kroll attempts to answer and then concludes:
Both Biden and Manchin agree that the next two years — and perhaps no more — present the chance to pass transformative legislation to end the Covid-19 pandemic, repair the economy, and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. He probably won’t get a better shot at that kind of change in his lifetime. “That’s the window,” Manchin told the Charleston Gazette-Mail in February. “That’s it. Two years. That’s all we got.”
As part of his supposed concern, Manchin continues to talk bipartisanship as a requirement even though he has yet to find any Republicans that demonstrate a willingness to help. And without his vote, the Democrats don't have a chance. Yep, Manchin will have power and be the center of everyone's attention -- just the way he likes it.