A state union chief who endorsed Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) hit at the newly elected senator for missing two key votes over the weekend.

West Virginia AFL-CIO chief Kenny Perdue took aim at Manchin, who replaced the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D), for skipping votes to repeal the military's ban on openly gay service members and on a controversial immigration bill called the DREAM Act.

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The senator's absence "isn't just a bad political maneuver, it is ineffective representation and leadership," Perdue said in a statement, according to the Charleston Gazette.

"Great senators make difficult decisions and they display courage and leadership in the face of adversity ... The late Robert C. Byrd personified these qualities," Perdue continued. "Unfortunately, Sen. Joe Manchin isn't demonstrating characteristics of a great senator during his first month in office." 

Manchin has said that his absence was due to a long-planned early Christmas party with his family, but that has not stopped criticism of his decision.

Perdue's remarks stand out since the West Virginia AFL-CIO endorsed Manchin for Senate this year. Manchin is expected to run for reelection when Byrd's term expires in 2012 and is likely to face a tough campaign.

Manchin, a popular governor, was expected to cruise to election in November but had to fend off a stiff challenge from Tea Party-backed Republican John Raese.

The West Virginia Democrat was at odds with his party on both votes over the weekend. He opposed the timing of repealing "Don't ask, don't tell" and had been critical of the DREAM Act.