The New York Times has a great must-read piece out about the West Virginia U.S. Senate race between the incumbent U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D. WV) and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R. WV). Manchin was considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election because of the conservative makeup of West Virginia along with Trump’s high approval rating. While Manchin is one of the most conservative Democrats in the U.S. Senate, he is united with the party on making health care a top priority:
In a state where approval of President Trump is near the country’s highest, Mr. Manchin, a Democrat, was once thought to be deeply endangered in his re-election this year. But the 71-year-old incumbent, who likes to say “Washington sucks,” has a 7- to 10-point polling edge over his Republican opponent, Patrick Morrisey. A lot can happen before Election Day, but for now, he is the envy of other red-state Democrats as the parties wrestle over control of the Senate.
For an explanation, look no further than the issue Mr. Manchin has made No. 1 in his campaign: health care, specifically protections enshrined in the Affordable Care Act, a once-vilified law that has grown increasingly popular now that its benefits are woven deeply into a state with high poverty and poor health. West Virginia has the highest share of its population covered by Medicaid, 29 percent, including about 160,000 who became eligible in the Medicaid expansion under the law.
Mr. Manchin, a former governor and the state’s dominant politician for more than a decade, rarely cites the law’s formal name, much less its toxic-for-West Virginia nickname, “Obamacare.”
But he has relentlessly raised the alarm over the potential loss of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, about one in three West Virginians.
Mr. Morrisey, the state attorney general, practically handed him the issue by joining a new lawsuit seeking to repeal the health care law, which Mr. Morrisey calls “devastating” because of rising premiums in the individual market.
A federal judge in Texas heard arguments Wednesday in the case, which was brought by Republican state officials from around the country. If they win and the Affordable Care Act, or pieces of it, falls, an estimated 17 million Americans will lose coverage. And in a change that would affect far more people, insurers would once again be able to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions or charge them more.
Democrats have seized on the lawsuit to defend endangered senators in red states, including North Dakota, Montana and Missouri.
But few are using it to galvanize votes as aggressively as Mr. Manchin, whose state has epidemic levels of diabetes, heart disease and opioid addiction. His TV ads star West Virginians with pre-existing conditions. He hosts round tables on the topic. And in the Senate, he introduced a resolution to fight the Republican lawsuit.
While I haven’t always agreed with Manchin’s voting record. I applaud him for being a vigorous fighter for protecting people’s health care, especially when it comes to pre-existing conditions. This issue has been helping him lead in the polls and is even helping push his Senate race status from Toss-Up to Leans Democrat. Let’s make sure that health care helps him and Richard Ojeda (D. WV-03) win this year. Click below to donate and get involved with Manchin and Ojeda’s campaigns: