U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and Rep. Nick Rahall, who are all running for reelection in 2012, announced Monday that they will not attend the convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September. The withdrawl leaves U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) as one of the state's few Democratic leaders still planning to attend.
Tomblin, an automatic delegate to the convention, "has serious problems with both Governor Romney and President Obama," his campaign spokesman, Chris Stadleman, said in a statement. "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.” Manchin, who spoke at the Democratic convention in 2008, said in a statement that he will "remain focused on bringing people together for the next generation, not the next election." His statement didn't mention Obama. Rahall said he supports the president, but said Obama's immigration announcement on Friday is "as wrong as he can be."
Announcement that Manchin, Tomblin and Rahall will skip the convention follows significant pressure from Republicans in the state over whether the Democrats will endorse Obama's reelection. Neither Tomblin nor Manchin have embraced the president this cycle, and both have expressed disapproval over some of the Obama's policies, especially his environmental regulations.
Obama has been deeply unpopular in the state, losing to Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary by 41 points. He lost the state to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by 13 points in the general election. Last month, federal prison inmate Keith Judd received 40 percent of the Democratic presidential primary votes against Obama.
Despite Obama's negative view by the Mountain State, Rockefeller has continued to support the incumbent president. "I've made no secret of the fact that I don't want to see Mitt Romney elected. I support our president and the entire Democratic ticket, top to bottom," Rockefeller said recently. "We must think about what these choices mean for West Virginia and for policy and programs that West Virginia needs."