At issue, as the West Virginia senator traveled to the Bayou State to act as a surrogate for the incumbent Democrat for her uphill re-election fight, is Mary Landrieu’s chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee and the necessity of her re-election for promoting the energy industry both in Manchin’s state and in ours.
And, per the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Manchin’s most prominent argument for Landrieu’s re-election doesn’t quite convince…
If Landrieu is defeated, she would be replaced as the top Democrat on the Energy Committee by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. Manchin says Cantwell is “a very good person,” but someone who would take a “hard-line environmental position” and not be open to the kind of oil and gas exploration that Landrieu supports.
It matters, Manchin said, whether the Democrats retains the chairmanship of the Energy Committee by recapturing the majority in the mid-term elections, or if Republicans win the majority and the Democrat becomes the “ranking member” under new Republican Energy Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Manchin said both the chair and ranking member have “a lot” to say about the committee’s agenda and Cantwell would block the pro-energy development legislation Landrieu supports.
“We are dead. Absolutely dead without Mary,” Manchin said.
Well, if without Mary Landrieu you get Maria Cantwell as the top Dem on the Energy Committee…you had damn sure better have a Republican majority in the Senate to insure she’s not the chair of it, right?
Manchin seems to be saying that the best outcome from his perspective is that, yes, Landrieu wins re-election…but that Harry Reid is gone as the Senate majority leader. After all, you can’t get a bill forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to Senate passage without getting rid of Reid. He won’t allow a vote on such a bill.
But since we don’t know for sure that Republicans can get a majority in the Senate without Landrieu losing, how is that supposed to happen? Maybe if Manchin switched parties and caucused with the GOP that might be the case.
There’s more from Manchin. This is apparently his best argument for how effective Landrieu is as the Energy Committee chair…
Manchin said that Landrieu, despite being portrayed by Republicans as overly supportive of President Barack Obama, is “remarkably tough and independent.”
He provides as an example the nomination of Norman Bay to chair Federal Electric Regulatory Commission. Manchin said that he and Landrieu shared the view that Bay, while quite smart and capable, didn’t have enough experience as a regulator to take the position.
They both wanted the current acting chair, Cheryl A. LaFleur, to retain that positon.
“You had all the pressure from the White House. You had the pressure from Harry Reid, the majority leader, pushing Mary as the brand new chair of the Energy Committee. Mary said ‘now wait a minute.’ And we looked at it and Mary and I talked about it,” Manchin said. “The man had no experience. He was a good man. His whole thing was in litigation and enforcement. It was not as a regulator and they wanted to leap frog him right to the front.”
“Mary pushed back as chairman. If we didn’t have Mary pushing back, I could have raised holy hell, which I was raising anyway. But I would never have been heard as effectively as I was with Mary supporting me.”
Landrieu, in the end, brokered a deal in which LaFleur would return as chair for nine months, while Bay worked under her on the commission to learn the ropes so he could take over after nine months.
Are you convinced by that?
Norman Bay gets to be the chairman of FERC; he just has to wait nine months before it happens. Manchin might think the issue is Bay’s inexperience, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that he’s already shown a desire to ride roughshod over the utility industry and cause chaos with the power grid in his short time at FERC. That’s why there was opposition to his appointment. The idea that Bay will all of a sudden stop becoming a leftist ideologue lawyer because he’s had nine whole months to cool his heels before taking the place over is hardly convincing.
It’s as though if Foster Campbell was going to be the chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission but he needed nine months to see how the job is done, everything would be OK. Campbell had more than a decade to wait before his got that chairmanship, and once he finally got it he proceeded to pursue every regulatory idiocy he could.
A guy who’s a nightmare as a regulator doesn’t become not a nightmare because he waits nine months to run the agency.
But according to Manchin, Mary did a terrific job. She bought nine whole months before she capitulated and gave the leftists in the Obama administration precisely what they wanted.
Joe Manchin seems like a nice fellow, and it would be nice if there were more Democrats like him. But if these are the best arguments he can make for keeping Mary Landrieu in her job, he doesn’t particularly help her cause. If anything, he might need to re-examine whether he’s in the right party.