- The Washington Times
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sen. Joe Manchin threw his weight behind Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana on Wednesday, arguing her clout as chair of the Energy Committee and positions on gun rights make her the right person to represent “Cajun country” for another six years.

In extolling his fellow Democrat, the West Virginian defended the common positions he and Mrs. Landrieu took on the Second Amendment and immigration reform.

“Mary’s been fighting every step of the way,” Mr. Manchin said. “We just need Mary. We need Mary back.”

He said his unsuccessful bill to require background checks for all commercial gun sales, a response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, was a common-sense move to promote gun safety and respect for firearms.

“That’s just what we’re taught in a gun culture,” he said, citing his home state and Louisiana as places with a healthy regard for firearms.

He said extreme elements of the NRA misconstrued his intentions, dooming the bill, and that opponents of a comprehensive Senate immigration overhaul, which has stalled in the House, forgot that it dedicated funds to securing the border.

“You don’t secure the border, forget everything else,” Mr. Manchin said.

Mrs. Landrieu, who voted in favor of the background checks and immigration bills, is locked in a tough reelection race with Republican congressman Bill Cassidy.

Mr. Cassidy is portraying Mrs. Landrieu as a devoted follower of President Obama, who is unpopular in their state, and attacking her for supporting the president’s health care law.

Mrs. Landrieu, seeking a fourth term, has sought to distance herself from that criticism by highlighting her positions in favor of the Keystone oil pipeline and a broad willingness to confront Mr. Obama on energy policy.

Mr. Manchin said if Mrs. Landrieu were voted out and Democrats retain the majority, then Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington could chair the energy panel. He said her positions on energy are too left-leaning to satisfy West Virginians and Louisianans.

He also said if Republicans pick up six seats in November and take the Senate, then Louisiana still needs Mrs. Landrieu’s voice as ranking member on the committee.

“Without Mary … we’re dead,” Mr. Manchin said. “We’re absolutely dead.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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