West Virginia Gov (And Dem Senate Candidate) Manchin Sues Obama Admin. Over Coal Policy

Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the Democratic nominee in the West Virginia Senate special election, is now taking a very bold step — his administration is suing the Obama White House over its coal mining policies.

As the Associated Press reports:

Manchin on Wednesday denied any connection between the federal lawsuit and his campaign to finish the remaining two years of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s term.

The Democratic governor said the suit was already being prepared amid rising concern that U.S. coal policies harm West Virginia’s mining economy months before Byrd died in June. The state hired a Charleston law firm to prepare for a suit and state Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman said in June that litigation was imminent.

“Over the past year and a half, we have been fighting President Obama’s administration’s attempts to destroy the coal mining industry,” Manchin said at a news conference Wednesday.

All available polling shows that Manchin is very popular as governor — but at the same time, he has fallen behind Republican businessman John Raese as a result of the Obama administration’s overwhelming unpopularity in the state.

Taking the Manchin administration at its word that it was preparing this lawsuit even before Byrd’s death in June, and is not politically motivated by the Senate race, one can’t help but think that the suit would have some impact on the Senate race — though it’s unclear whether this impact would be for or against Manchin’s chances.

The TPM Poll Average gives Raese a lead of 49.4%-43.4%.