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David Crawley (copy)

David Crawley

In 2004, two major events occurred: one statewide, the other personal. Joe Manchin was elected governor of West Virginia, and I immigrated to the United States of America at the age of 10.

The pandemic of the past many months has allowed all of us unprecedented amounts of time to ponder, and I have used mine to reflect on my life and the state of West Virginia. One thing I noticed was major milestones in my life that coincide with Manchin.

In 2010, I was to meet the governor while touring his mansion as a part of a high school trip, but he was absent, tending to the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster. In 2013, Manchin would be inaugurated for his first full term as a U.S. senator and I would graduate from Madonna High. I did not really pay attention to politics until I was a senior in high school, and even then my interest was mostly in presidential politics beyond our borders.

But little did I know at this time, when my family was dealing with difficulties with the Social Security system, it was Manchin’s office that helped us out and allowed us to live better lives.

In 2015, I attended my first Jefferson-Jackson Dinner (since renamed Roosevelt-Kennedy). Former president Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker, but it was Manchin’s words that night that stuck with me. His speech, where he talked about the acceptance the Democratic Party had at its core, that it was a party for everyone whether they be liberal or conservative, Black or white, gay or straight; where he proclaimed “We’ll accept ya!”

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Time and again, this has been a central part of my philosophy.

Finally, in 2018, two more major events in my intertwined life with Joe Manchin occurred. I became an American citizen 14 years after I arrived on its golden shores, and I took a job as the data director of the West Virginia Democratic Party. I worked to help ensure that Manchin, a man I believe in, got to continue to represent our state in Washington, and we were successful. I am now a proud West Virginian and a proud American, and that pride is inextricably linked with our senior senator.

While I am no longer with the state Democratic Party, there’s one memory from that time that will always stay with me. When I got to my ballot, the first ballot I would ever cast as an American citizen, the first name I put my mark on was his. Manchin has always done what is best for West Virginia. The reason he is still in office as a Democrat, while West Virginia has become ruby red, is because he bucks the trends of D.C.

He doesn’t allow party leaders or lobbyists to make decisions for him, he listens to the will of the people of West Virginia and does what his constituents want and need. I know he will always do so, and he will have our support as long as he does.

David Crawley is the director of the West Virginia chapter of Un-PAC.

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