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Other Manchins in Washington, D.C.: Gale Manchin and her work for Appalachia

Gail Manchin is a recent speech, and those who speak in tongs and draws are their intellect. 

She said, "People wouldn't think you were wise," recalls Manchin, who is married to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. 

"I wasn't aware of it," Manchin told the speaker. "She said,'Oh, that's right.'" 

West Virginia Twang, "she said. So, "If you have a Harvard accent, they will automatically know more about what you're talking about," she said, overturning the woman's assumptions. 

With or without Twan, no one doubts Gale Manchin knows about Appalachia. The proof is that last year she was none other than President Joe Biden, who nominated her to lead the federal economic development agency in the region. 

Manchin's position required Senate approval, but the process was by no means daunting to her. "I think I had that advantage ... I know a lot of senators not only personally ... but also politically about what's important."

If confirmed Manchin has reached the heights of new professionals as a principle of federal public services, staff adjoining and armed with budget. 

"I knew that President Biden really understood the American countryside," Manchin said on the occasion of how she was "thundered." I explained what I felt. "And I don't think there was a president in my life who really thought I really understood the American countryside ..." 

Her Senate unanimous vote was full In unanimous, she became the second manchin to work for the federal government in Washington, with her budget and staff. Gail and Joe Manchin are not the first couple to take on Washington together. Elaine Chao served as both Transport and Secretary of Labor, and her husband Mitch McConnell served in the Senate. He is currently a Republican minority leader.

2022 Concordia Lexington Summit - Day 2
Lexington, Kentucky-April 8: Galemantin, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (Digital), cons in 2022 Lecture on stage at the Cordia Lexington Summit in Lexington, Kentucky.  Photo: Jon Cherry / Getty Images for Concordia

Joe Manchin is a major swing vote in the Senate during the Biden administration. Played a role in the 50-50 Senate. He helped form thebipartisan infrastructure lawand, and died on a more ambitious spending bill advocated by progressives and the president. Ringed the bellHe said he wouldn't vote.

Hoppy Carvechar, the host of a local West Virginia talk show, wrote inlast year: Manchin. 

File: Senator Joe Manchin, Washington D-W. Va. , Left, his wife Gale Connelly Manchin arrives at a state dinner with an Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington on Friday, September 20, 2019.  AP Photo / Patrick Semansky

Whether it was fair or not,  Kercheval is Manchin's Joe Manchin's excellence. Given that, the nominations arose from a sort of Washington coziness, especially because of the power he exercises in Congress. 

Gale Manchin said she was careful to separate her work from her husband's work. "I think we're a good team," Manchin said. "And I think we complement each other, but he has certainly been in charge of his career and the role he plays in his work. And I have my career and my role, I've been in charge of the role I play. " 

And what do she think of all the attention the moderate senator received this year?

"Well, that's what I say," Manchin said with a laugh. "This is me." 

Manchin said he had been working for a year and had not yet met Mr. Biden to discuss Appalachia, but the other way around. I'm trying to contact him. At a recent luncheon for her Senate spouse, Manchin said she was approaching First Lady Jill Biden. "And I always say,'Thank you for your husband for me.'

Sitting with Manchin in the Commission's obscure glass Washington office building-she Occasionally I commute on foot from my home in Washington, D.C.-I feel that this role was aimed at by the head of the 57-year-old Appalachia Regional Commission. In the economic development of Appalachia's 13 states. Came at the right time. 

After decades of public duties as a school teacher, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice became the first lady in West Virginia in 2017. Appointed her to lead the bureau. During her tenure, Gale Manchin proved that she was not, like her husband, away from the political battle.  

West Approximately a year after joining the Virginia state government, she confronted justice after a bill passed by a Republican-led state council that she believed threatened her department.  

Justice When Manchin did not respond, Manchin issued a statement that publicly pressured justice to reject the bill. Instead of recalling her, the governor fired her andwrote. "She became very critical and political and put me in a very very bad position."

Manchin wasn't upset. "I don't think it's because I'm Joe Manchin's wife. They think Democrats need to be kicked out of influence. Republicans in this state are in this position. I believe everyone should be a Republican. "Then she toldKervechal. In fact, Justice, who was a Democrat until 2016, was a member of the party in 2017.

Four years later, in close cooperation with her new role in the federal government, Manchin, the Commission's Federal Co-Chair, and the Governor of Appalachia (including justice). And he couldn't work any harder to praise the woman he fired now. 

"Well, first and foremost, we can't believe it now. I have as many co-chairs as I do, not. "Justice said Gale Manchin at the beginning of a roundtable meeting with two other governors in May. "I can't really thank you enough, and really, at the end of the day, you got real passion, and absolutely that's what drives everything," smiles Justice. I told Manchin. "So you got the ball, and we're going straight behind. So tell us the play to run, and we're going to run it." 

When asked how the relationship between the two became smoother, Manchin laughed. "As long as I was, you couldn't live in the world of politics ... you can't hold a grudge. You move on," she said. "And something that might look like a bad thing that happened, that is, if he didn't fire me, maybe I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do this. So maybe he favors me. Shown. " 

If not yet clear, Manchin enjoys politics. "I'm probably one of the few in the world who doesn't consider" politics "a dirty word. Someone campaigned, "I'm a businessman, not a politician." Or you know whatever they claim, "Manchin said. "To me, you say you are a politician, you say you are interested in trying to influence the policies of where you live." 

In her role, she met with all 13 Appalachian governors except Kathy Hochul in New York, while in Washingtonshe was often in the Biden Cabinet. I may meet my secretary. 

"I don't think I've been timid to step up to the plate," she said about meeting with these political leaders, especially when she could share a regional perspective. Told. 

In December, Galemanchin is next door while Capitol Hill Democrats discuss Biden's signature "Build Back Better" social spending package, a bill in which her husband was involved in the murder. The White House in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, located in Tokyo, met with government officials on how to revitalize the coal and power plant community. 

Manchin sits in the center of the room, next to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, and other White House top executives, and the group is a recently passed bipartisan infrastructure. Talked about the law (husband with her help) — increased the budget of theAppalachian Commission by $ 1 billion — and how the law makes broadband connections in the region Do you support?

She helped Appalachia, who has roots in the December meeting, win a big victory a few months ago. One businessman in attendance said he was "groping" for the idea of ​​establishing a battery manufacturing company in Appalachia. 

 "Mrs. Manchin was distrustful of her face," recalled businessman Sanjiv Malhotra.When he said it was a Silicon Valley company, "[Manchin's] distrust turned into complete distrust," he saidshe seemed a bit suspicious. ..

"And I don't blame her. There are quite a few entrepreneurs in California, especially Silicon Valley, who tend to be volatile," recalls Malhotra. He admitted that the appearance was justified.

However, his company subsequently announced in March its intention to build a 100% cobalt-free battery plant in Charleston, West Virginia. We welcome public-private partnership ventures. 

Manchin's job is not only to meet with key business development executives and entrepreneurs, but also to travel the area and explore dozens of commission-funded projects. is. She has already reached 11 out of 13 in Appalachia. situation.

Mayor Liz Ordiales of Hiawassee, Georgia, said she was nervous about meeting with Manchin after visiting her town with other officials. "You're always a little skeptical, you know she's a big player," Ordiales said. 

But After Manchin changed from a business suit to jeans on the tour, she started a business incubator with a $ 600,000 grant and details plans to order pizza. I asked a question. Red wine at dinner, the group of Ordiales was relieved.

Ordiales praises the Commission for "moving the city from kindergarten to a master's degree" and shows Manchin how her commission is supporting a small town. He said he was happy to be able to do it.

Bo Ericsson
Bo Erickson

Bo Erickson is a reporter covering the White House of CBS News Digital.

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