Beginning with last year's election, there's been off and on speculation about the future of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.
Not about being elected to the Senate. That was decided-at least for six years-with last year's election results. But it's about whether Manchin, a life-long Democrat, might switch parties and become a Republican.
Manchin definitely has a few qualities Republicans like. He is a fiscal conservative, as he proved as West Virginia's governor from 2005-2010. He also is in favor of energy development, often criticizing the Obama administration on its opposition to the XL Pipeline and the presumed "War on Coal".
And in his election victories, his overwhelming support seems to come not only from Democrats (who still outnumber state Republicans in registration) but some Republicans as well.
But-again, it seems-Manchin's support of extending gun registration laws, which failed in the Senate back in April, didn't give him much support among either Democrats or Republicans in the state. Some have vowed to remember that once he is up for re-election (which won't be until 2018, by which time President Obama will be out of office).
Furthermore, Manchin has supported the Affordable Health Care Law (a.k.a. "Obamacare"), saying parts of it may need to be changed, but opposing repealing the entire law.
Doesn't sound like a Republican to me.
Interestingly, in his two unsuccessful tries to defeat Manchin for the Senate, Republican John Raese tried hard to tie Manchin to President Obama. Raese told me in an interview last year "Manchin has voted with Obama 95% of the time".
Another reason I doubt Manchin will switch parties: simply put, he and his family are lifelong Democrats. Everyone in his family who has held elected office (remember A. James Manchin?) are Democrats. Manchin becoming a Republican is as unlikely as Shelley Moore Capito (daughter of former Republican Governor Arch Moore) becoming a Democrat.
Why are Republicans talking about Manchin? It's not that difficult to figure out. They want to get control of both the U.S. House and the Senate. Having failed to accomplish both through the ballot box, they would love to see a few Democrats, including Manchin, switch parties.
But that could also be accomplished by Manchin becoming an independent, which, while still unlikely, sounds more feasible than his becoming a Republican.
But, while almost nothing surprises me any more, some things still amaze me. And one of them is politics.
Recently, two fine entertainers passed away:
Eydie Gorme, who had a long and successful singing career, both by herself and with husband Steve Lawrence...and Julie Harris, a veteran actress on the stage, in movies and on television.
Both, by all accounts, were outstanding ladies whose only notoriety had to do with what they did for a living.
The passing of both, collectively, did not get anything close to the publicity over Kim Kardashian's pregnancy and the birth of her child.