Senator Manchin refutes speculation of a party switch

Published: Nov. 9, 2016 at 9:22 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Several reports Tuesday night speculated Senator Joe Manchin could switch parties if the election ended in a 50-50 Senate tie.

The speculation arose in part because Manchin is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress.

Fox News tweeted, "Senator Joe Manchin said he's not committed to staying a Democrat if it's a 50-50 Senate."

Wednesday, Manchin told WSAZ that's simply not true, and he says he was surprised to hear it brought up.

"That's what goes on in Washington and I guess New York and the pundits," Manchin said. "I thought they had enough drama last night they didn't need to bring me into it, but I heard they did, and they started calling me, and I said 'no way.' "

Many West Virginia voters have felt disenfranchised with Democrats on the national level, blaming federal regulations for a suffering coal industry.

Manchin is still distancing himself from some of his Democratic colleagues in the nation's capital.

"I'm a West Virginia Democrat," Manchin said. "I'm not a Washington Democrat. We're a little different. I don't subscribe to all of this very liberal, extreme liberal -- I'm a centrist, moderate conservative Democrat."

Manchin also says he's not someone who denies that the climate's being affected.

The former governor said he disagrees with President Obama's energy policy. He says he thinks President-Elect Donald Trump will embrace an energy policy to use all the resources we have in the cleanest way possible.

Manchin is up for re-election in 2018.