By Justin Sink
Three prominent West Virginia Democrats said Monday that they would skip the party's national convention in Charlotte, N.C., this September over concerns that links to the party could hurt their re-election chances.
Sen. Joe Manchin, Rep. Nick Rahall, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin all said they would avoid the convention, according to the West Virginia Metro News.
The announcements come after Manchin and Tomblin both indicated earlier this year that they were not sure they would personally support President Obama's re-election effort.
“The people in West Virginia, they basically look at the candidates — whatever you’re running for, whether it be the president itself, or whatever — [they look at] the performance and the result that’s been attained,” Manchin told the National Journal in April. “Right now in West Virginia, these first three and a half years haven’t been that good to West Virginia. So, then you look [at] what the options will be, who will be on the other end.”
Tomblin reiterated that he had not decided who to back in November when discussing his decision to opt out of attending the convention.
“As he has said, he has serious problems with both Governor Romney and President Obama," Tomblin campaign spokesman Chris Stadleman told the Metro News. "The Governor feels that his time is best spent working in West Virginia to move our state forward instead of attending a four-day political rally in North Carolina.”
The West Virginia Republican Party was quick to condemn Tomblin and Manchin over the news.
"We all know the only reason they're refusing to attend the DNC Convention is they're afraid to tell the people of West Virginia who they support for President, and any attempt to suggest otherwise is political spin aimed at purposefully misleading the voters," said West Virginia GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas in a statement.
Rahall has already signaled that he supports Obama's re-election.
The president remains very unpopular in West Virginia, where a dominant coal industry has objected to his environmental regulatory policies. Despite a sweeping victory in 2008, Obama still lost the state by 13 percentage points. In the West Virginia Democratic primary earlier this spring, a Texas federal inmate managed to earn more than 40 percent against the president.
Updated at 6:35 p.m.