There were lots of losers in this week’s Senate runoff in Georgia. But today, one who looked like he was heading for a fall—West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin—got a reprieve from his fellow mavericky moderate, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
There was much for Democrats to celebrate in the re-election of Sen. Raphael Warnock on Tuesday, but one of the sweetest sugar plums for many in the party is what the loss would presumably do to Manchin.
In a 50-50 Senate, Manchin has a veto on legislation. His party needs him and the tie-breaking Vice President Kamala Harris to win even simple-majority votes on confirmations and budget bills. Manchin enraged the left wing of the party this Congress by refusing to go nuclear and vote for rule changes to lower the threshold to 51 seats for other legislation. With Warnock back and Republicans down a seat after a bungle in Pennsylvania, Manchin’s kingship appeared to be at an end.
Many Democrats, though, were forgetting about Sinema, who had been Manchin’s +1 on many of his standoffs with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. With Warnock’s win and the resulting 51-49 Democratic majority, her support would go from being a comfort for Manchin to a necessity. He can’t stand up to the left wing without her. So what would she do?