U.S. Senator and former governor Joe Manchin was born in Fairmont on August 24, 1947. Growing up in the Marion County town of Farmington, he worked in his family’s grocery and furniture stores. He later returned to Farmington to run Manchin’s Carpet Center and eventually his own energy-brokering firm.
In the 1980s, the lifelong Democrat served a term in the House of Delegates and began a 14-year stint in the state Senate, where he promoted welfare, health care, and Medicaid reforms. A staunch Catholic, he opposed abortion rights, putting him at odds with many Democrats.
In 1996, Manchin ran for governor but lost a bitter Democratic primary to Charlotte Pritt. In the November election, Manchin—and many conservative Democrats—refused to support Pritt, who lost to Republican Cecil Underwood.
Manchin became secretary of state in 2001 and, in 2004, defeated Monty Warner to become West Virginia’s first Catholic governor. During his term, he helped pay down West Virginia’s debt and privatize the workers’ compensation system.
In 2010, Joe Manchin defeated John Raese in a special election to fill the late Robert C. Byrd’s U.S. Senate seat.