West Virginia’s top three Democrats will not attend their party’s national convention in September, the West Virginia Democratic Party said Monday.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall do not plan to help pick President Barack Obama as their party’s nominee.
Each man is a super-delegate to the national nominating convention by virtue of their elected office. Republicans have been engaged in a concerted effort to tie each man to Obama, who is deeply unpopular in West Virginia.
While Rahall has said he supports Obama, Manchin and Tomblin’s talk continues to directly conflict with a recent resolution in support of Obama passed by 900 Democrats at the state party convention earlier this month.
The state convention delegates said public statements by several candidates were sowing confusion within the party. The resolution was seen as a scolding of Manchin and Tomblin for their wavering support of the president. It said Democrats running for office should support all elected Democrats, particularly Obama.
Both Manchin and Tomblin have been bouncing around about whether they support Obama. They did so again on Monday.
Though Rahall does not plan to attend the convention, he has said he supports Obama.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney’s campaign called Tomblin’s decision a “pathetic abdication of leadership.”
“We have a governor who is so afraid of his party bosses that he refuses to answer the simple question of whether or not another 4-year term for Barack Obama is good for our state,” Maloney said in a statement. “Now he won’t even attend his party’s convention.”
A Rahall spokesman said the congressman would rather attend Labor Day events back in West Virginia than go to North Carolina. The national convention is in Charlotte, N.C., the week of Labor Day.
“Coming on the heels of Labor Day, Congressman Rahall prefers to spend that time in West Virginia with his constituents,” Rahall campaign spokesman Jim Zoia said in an email.
Both Manchin and Tomblin released statements suggesting they had better things to do than attend the convention.
“I intend to spend this fall focused on the people of West Virginia, whether that’s representing them in my official U.S. Senate duties or here at home, where I can hear about their concerns and ideas to solve the problems of this great nation,” Manchin said through campaign spokesman Emily Bittner.
Manchin attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. The late Sen. Robert Byrd, who did support Obama, did not attend that convention.
Tomblin’s campaign released a statement similar to Manchin’s.
“Gov. Tomblin had made the decision to not attend the Democratic National Convention,” said Tomblin campaign spokesman Chris Stadelman. “As he has said he has serious problems with both Gov. Romney and President Obama. The governor feels that his time is best spent working in West Virginia to move our state forward instead of attending a four-day political rally in North Carolina.” Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be the Republican Party’s nominee.
Tomblin has never been to a national convention, Stadelman said.
The Republicans have been putting pressure on Manchin and Tomblin to say if they planned to go to the convention and vote for Obama. The GOP has been trying to tie the two conservative Democrats to Obama for years now. In 2010, Manchin won a special Senate election despite that line of attack. In 2011, Tomblin won a special gubernatorial election despite the attack.
In recent days, Maloney’s campaign cited a state Democratic Party rule that appears to require national convention super-delegates to declare who they intend to vote for by June 19. The state Democratic Party’s executive director Derek Scarbro said the rule was designed for years when the nomination was contested and doesn’t apply to this year.
That didn’t stop the deadline from being called “D-Day.” But before the deadline came, Manchin and Tomblin announced they would not be going to Charlotte.
Other West Virginia Democrats do plan to travel to Charlotte. Here’s the rundown from the state Democratic Party:
US Senator Jay Rockefeller (Kanawha) – plans to attend
US Senator Joe Manchin (Marion) – does not plan to attend
Congressman Nick Rahall (Raleigh) – does not plan to attend
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (Logan) – does not plan to attend
Vice-Chair of the National Association of Democratic Secretaries of State Natalie Tennant (Kanawha) – plans to attend
Young Democrats of America President Rod Snyder (Jefferson) - plans to attend
Democratic National Committee Secretary Alice Germond (Jefferson) - plans to attend
State Party Chair Larry Puccio (Marion) – plans to attend
State Party Vice-Chair Belinda Biafore (Marion) - plans to attend
State Party National Committeeman Pat Maroney (Kanawha) - plans to attend
State Party National Committeewoman Elaine Harris (Kanawha) - plans to attend
In addition, the WV delegation includes 27 delegates and alternates to National Convention who were elected at the WV Democratic Party’s State Convention earlier this month. They are:
1st CD: Tim Miley (Harrison County), Paul Miller (Wood), Kyle Haugh (Monongalia), Scott Sears (Marion), Susan Miley (Harrison), Charlene Marshall (Monongalia), Barbara Fleischauer (Monongalia), Marge Burke (Gilmer), and Teresa Miller (Wood) as an alternate.
2nd CD: Hannah McCarley (Jefferson), Karen Coria (Putnam), Bobbie Hatfield (Kanawha), Meshea Poore (Kanawha), Brad Heflin (Kanawha), Tom Vogel (Kanawha), Erik Wells (Kanawha), Curt Zickefoose (Kanawha), and Ryan Frankenberry (Kanawha) as an alternate.
3rd CD: Coy Flowers (Greenbrier), William Wooton (Raleigh), Shirley Love (Fayette), Chris Hall (Raleigh), Karen Lobban (Greenbrier), Susan Hubbard (Cabell), Audrey Love (Fayette), Susan Williams (Fayette), and alternate Katherine Butcher (Lincoln)
After the State Convention concluded, the State Democratic Executive Committee met and elected 12 at-large delegates:
At-large: Katherine Dooley (Kanawha), James Casey (Mason), Sue Bayliss (Kanawha), Nick Casey (Kanawha), Nancy Guthrie (Kanawha), Jerry Brookover (Wirt), Virginia Moles (Kanawha), Ernest Terry (Kanawha), Andrea Hays (Upshur), Paul Qualls (Cabell), Elizabeth Cruikshank (Marion), and Kathy Abate (Monongalia).
Chairman Puccio filled the two available appointed positions with State Senate President Jeff Kessler (Marshall County) and Phyllis White (Mingo).
Three standing Committee representatives were also chosen: Scott King (Kanawha) for the Credentials Committee, Kelly Palmer (Monongalia) for Platform, and Kenny Perdue (Marion) for Rules.
The National Convention will be in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 3-6. The event starts that Monday, Labor Day, with a rally at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Most of West Virginia’s Delegation is expected to arrive Sunday September 2 and Monday September 3.