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Joe Manchin becomes a punching bag in the 2022 Democratic primaries

Sen. Joe Manchin has been labeled the most powerful man in Washington for his willingness to single-handedly tank President Joe Biden’s agenda. But on the Democratic campaign trail in 2022, Manchin, the centrist from West Virginia, is a target of derision.

Democrats with some conservative policy positions are being scornfully compared to him by rivals appealing to primary voters to carry the party’s torch. Manchin has become a one-man power center in the 50-50 Senate, flexing his muscles for and against his party as he represents a ruby-red state Biden lost by 39 points.

Jessica Cisneros, who is seeking to unseat Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas in a competitive primary runoff May 24, likened Cuellar to Manchin for his willingness to be the only House Democrat to vote against legislation to codify abortion rights.
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There’s so many key issues where he’s always siding with Republicans, and he could become the Joe Manchin of the House,” Cisneros said Thursday on MSNBC. “We don’t want Henry Cuellar to be the deciding vote on the future of our fundamental freedoms and rights in this country. We can’t risk that.”

For Democrats like Cisneros, Manchin serves as a foil to paint moderate rivals as stymieing Biden’s agenda, which could be a way not only to attract progressive votes but also send a signal to moderate pro-Biden Democrats in primaries. It remains to be seen whether the tactic will be successful. And for a Democrat hanging on in a Republican state, the criticisms from within his party may only burnish his image as a maverick.

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