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Joseph "Joe" Manchin III (born August 24, 1947) is an Americanmarker politician from the State of West Virginiamarker. Manchin was elected Governor of West Virginia in the 2004 election and took office on January 17, 2005; he was reelected in 2008. He is a member of the Democratic Party and the scion of a large Democratic political family in his home state.

Early life

Manchin was born in Farmington, West Virginiamarker in 1947, second of five children. He graduated from Farmington High School in 1965. His grandparents were Italianmarker immigrants.

Manchin entered West Virginia Universitymarker on a football scholarship in 1965; however, an injury during practice ended his football career. He graduated in 1970 with a degree in information management and later became involved in several family owned businesses.

Early political career

He was elected to the House of Delegates in the West Virginia Legislature in 1982, and moved up to the Senate in 1986 where he served until 1996. As a Senator, he was present, along with A. James' son and Joe's cousin, during the impeachment trial of his uncle, A. James Manchin, then the State Treasurer. His uncle resigned the day that the trial began, and died on November 2, 2003.

In 1996, Manchin was a candidate for governor, but finished second to Charlotte Pritt among a large group of candidates in the Democratic primary election. He then ran for state Secretary of State of West Virginia in 2000, winning easily.

Term as governor

Manchin announced his intention to challenge incumbent Governor Bob Wise in the 2004 Democratic primary election in May 2003, but Wise decided not to run for re-election after a scandal, becoming the first governor of West Virginia not to do so since running for re-election was permitted in 1972. Manchin won both the primary and general election by large margins, and his election marked the first time that two persons of the same political party have followed one another in the governor's office since 1964.

As governor, Manchin is a member of the National Governors Association, chairman of the Southern Governors' Association, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, chairman of the Southern States Energy Board, state's chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission and chairman of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission.

In July 2005, Massey Energy chief executive officer Don Blankenship sued Manchin, alleging that Manchin had violated Blankenship's First Amendment rights by threatening to retaliate with increased government scrutiny of his coal operations. Blankenship poured substantial amounts of money into campaigns to defeat a proposed pension bond amendment and oppose the re-election of state Supreme Courtmarker Justice Warren McGraw and also fought against an increase in the severance tax. Soon after the defeat of the pension bond amendment, the state Division of Environmental Protection revoked a permit approval for controversial new silos near Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh Countymarker. While area residents had complained for some time that the coal operation there endangered their children, Blankenship claimed that the DEP's action was in response to his opposition to the bond amendment.

During the Sago Mine disastermarker of early January 2006, Manchin initially appeared to confirm reports that 12 miners had survived. These reports proved to be incorrect three hours later, when it was confirmed that only one miner survived the accident. In an early-morning press conference on January 4, Manchin acknowledged that an unintentional miscommunication had occurred with rescue teams within the mine and stated that the incorrect information he received regarding the status of the miners was not received through official channels. Although he did not confirm the story, the press assumed he did, and no one is currently aware how the story was confirmed. His handling of the Sago mine incident may have enhanced his popularity. In November 2006, SurveyUSA ranked him as one of the most popular governors in the country with a 74% approval rating.

On February 1, 2006, Manchin ordered a stop to all coal production in the state of West Virginia pending safety checks after two more miners were killed that day in separate accidents. A total of 16 West Virginia coal miners died from mining accidents in early 2006.

On April 15, 2006, during an Easter visit to U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraqmarker, Manchin generated controversy by posing for photographers while signing two missiles at Balad Air Force Basemarker. One of the messages read, "Sending you to hell, from Almost Heaven, West Virginia." He explained his intentions to the media stating, "I just thought, 'Hey, these are people doing tremendous harm to our people.' I wanted to send them a little message." After receiving several complaints, Manchin issued an apology.

On May 13, 2006, Manchin delivered the commencement address to the 299 graduates of Wheeling Jesuit University, where he was also presented with an honorary degree.

Political speculation has surrounded Manchin's possible response should Senator Robert C. Byrd be unable to serve out a full term, but Manchin has almost universally refused to comment on the subject; however when asked during the Dominion Post West Virginia Gubernatorial Forum he stated that he would not appoint himself to the position. Should the Senator die during his term, Manchin would have the responsibility of appointing a replacement.

He has been indirectly involved in a controversy over the legitimacy of an Executive Masters of Business Administration degree awarded to his daughter Heather Bresch by West Virginia Universitymarker. Bresch is chief operating officer of Mylan Laboratories, a major benefactor of West Virginia Universitymarker. After inquiries by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the university discovered that there was no record of her having been awarded the degree, and additional transcript information was incomplete. A committee led by the provost, Gerald Lang, and the dean of the College of Business and Economics, R. Stephen Sears, determined that in a case where the evidence was not clear, the decision must be made in favor of the student and she was retroactively awarded the M.B.A. degree and grades were assigned to her incomplete courses. As a result of public outcry, an independent panel was appointed to investigate the incident and determined that the decision to award her a degree was based on "seriously flawed judgment." As a result of this investigation, both Lang and Sears resigned their administrative positions and returned to the teaching faculty. The university president, Michael Garrison, was given a vote of no confidence by the faculty senate. Garrison, who was believed by many to have been involved in Heather Bresch's erroneous record, stepped down as university president on September 1, 2008 after a long bout of public and faculty protest.


Manchin has been married since 1967 to the former Gayle Conelly, and they have three children: Heather, Joseph IV, and Brooke. He is a member of the National Rifle Associationmarker and is pro-life. Manchin is a certified pilot.

Electoral history


  1. Joe Manchin states that he would not select himself for the US senate position should Robert Byrd be unable to serve a full term

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