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Manchin's Motives Are A Mystery As He Heads To A Texas Fundraiser

Patch logo Patch 7/20/2021 Kevin Phinney
Joe Manchin wearing a suit and tie: West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin — perhaps the least likely ally Texas Democrats have — met with them last week and will jet to Houston for a fundraiser in his honor Friday. Is there more on his agenda than collecting checks from his GOP hosts? © Image Credit: (Photo by Leigh Vogel-Pool/Getty Images) West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin — perhaps the least likely ally Texas Democrats have — met with them last week and will jet to Houston for a fundraiser in his honor Friday. Is there more on his agenda than collecting checks from his GOP hosts?

DALLAS, TX — The most well-known fly in the ointment of President Biden's agenda is causing a buzz as he heads to Texas this Friday.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has already made a reputation for himself as the Democrat least likely to cooperate with his own party. Now Beltway insiders are scratching their heads trying to figure out why Manchin is heading to Houston for a Republican-sponsored fundraiser.

The senator's office announced his trip a day after Manchin's meeting on Capitol Hill with the Texas House Democrats who fled the state rather than be plowed under in their opposition to the onerous voting legislation put forward in the special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott two weeks ago.

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There is no Democratic parallel to the Republican epithet RINO (Republican In Name Only), but if there were, Manchin would be its poster boy. He's been a spoke in the wheels in one of the Democrats' fondest wishes — changing the filibuster in Congress, or eliminating it entirely.

Is Manchin a living Trojan Horse, bringing a message from the Texas Democrats in exile that might break the impasse over voting rights and allow them to return home? Is he a latter-day Neville Chamberlain who will return to Washington with some promised compromise from the GOP?

Does he have a plan that neither side understands fully to bring "peace in our time," as Henry Kissinger once put it?

Or is it simply about Republicans romancing Manchin, the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in order to curry favor with the one Democrat they seem to like?

No one knows.

What is known is that Manchin is expected to be the guest of honor among a throng of heavyweight Republican donors. And those in attendance are being asked to give generously Friday afternoon to the senator's leadership PAC ($5,000 would be nice, they suggest) or directly to his reelection campaign to the tune of $5,800.

Among the guests are what The Texas Tribune calls "titans of the Texas oil and gas industry — many of whom donate almost exclusively to Republicans."

Former 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate and ex-Houston Mayer Bill White is also listed as a host of the River Oaks event.

So the event could simply be the rich and powerful lining each other's pockets again. Or there could be some secret diplomatic efforts underway, but Manchin's office isn't saying a word.

Meanwhile, Gov. Abbott has let it be known that his siege-of-the-exiled Democrats will continue and that his next special session will begin the day after the current one ends. And those Democrats cooling their heels in DC are wondering which one will next turn up with COVID-19, and how they get themselves a legislative result they can live with and return to their lives in Texas.

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