Being the swing vote in the U.S. Senate is paying fat dividends for Joe Manchin.
From April 1 to June 30, West Virginia’s senior senator raised $1.4 million in campaign contributions, more than double his totals from the first quarter, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
Manchin’s campaign committee ended June with $3.9 million on hand, compared to $2.2 million at this point in the previous election cycle. The famously conservative Democrat raised just $50,000 in the second quarter of 2019. He ended the two-year campaign cycle between 2019 and 2020 with $2.4 million cash-on-hand.
His donors reflected his voting record, coming from both sides of the political divide. Money flowed through two conduit committees. He gathered more than $335,000 through ActBlue, an online Democratic fundraising platform, and nearly $100,000 through VoteSane, a right-leaning group.
The former governor picked up another $1.1 million in individual contributions, largely from executives of fossil fuel and real estate companies.
Over the quarter, Manchin raised $37,000 from executives at a slew of oil and natural gas companies, including Houston-based Tellurian, ConocoPhillips, Talos Energy and Nicklos Drilling; Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources; Pittsburgh-based EQT Corporation; Sidney, Montana-based Knapp Oil Corporation; and Tyler, Texas-based Mewbourne Oil Company.
Much of the attention on Manchin and some of the money flowing to him hinged on his stance on the For the People Act, the election bill. The House passed it March 4 and then the battle to sway Manchin ensued. Others — including papers owned by HD Media, publisher of the Charleston Gazette-Mail and Herald-Dispatch — made money, too, as both sides made their case in advertisements seeking to land Manchin’s vote.
On June 5, the Gazette-Mail published an op-ed by Manchin, who said he wouldn’t support the For the People Act as it was written at the time. He wrote that “congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.”
The Senate later amended the For the People Act with Manchin-proposed provisions, but the bill died in a 50-50 vote to begin debate on it June 22. The measure required 60 votes to advance.
The election reform law included provisions that would have made Election Day a public holiday, banned partisan gerrymandering and instead required computer models to draw local legislative and congressional districts.
It would have required states to send absentee by mail ballots to eligible voters before an election if the voter isn’t able to vote in person during either early voting or on Election Day.
In his June column, Manchin said he supported the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would create procedural rules governing voting rights violations.