CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin filed candidacy papers on Wednesday to run for a full six-term, setting up a potential rematch with 2010 special general election opponent John Raese.
Asked about a possible second showdown with the Republican businessman, Manchin said, "We will let the people make the decision in November ... People know my dedication to the state. I'm a West Virginian through and through -- in everything I believe in, everything I do."
Raese filed for the Senate last Thursday, saying he had unfinished business after losing the tumultuous election to Manchin in November 2010.
Manchin on Wednesday admitted his first 14 months in the Senate have been challenging and frustrating, but said he wants to help restore bipartisan cooperation in Congress.
He said Congress must get its financial house in order, bring jobs back to America, develop an all-encompassing energy policy, and stop spending trillions on wars on foreign soil.
"You have to reach across the aisle," Manchin said. "No one party can do it by themselves."
Manchin also said he does not believe President Barack Obama will be a drag at the top of the state Democratic Party ticket in 2012.
"It's not a team game," Manchin said. "People are going to make their own decisions. They're going to make their decisions on who they think is best for their state and their country."
Manchin described himself as an independent voice for West Virginia in the Senate, noting, "I haven't always made the Democratic Party happy -- I haven't always made the White House happy."
In 2010, Manchin defeated Raese by 10 percentage points of the vote, after a back-and-forth race with polls showing Raese leading Manchin on a few occasions.
Raese's campaign attempted to portray Manchin as a rubber-stamp for Obama, an assertion that Manchin answered with a controversial campaign ad showing him actually shooting the administration's cap-and-trade bill.
Manchin's campaign portrayed Raese as a millionaire businessman out-of-touch with average West Virginians, and made issue of the house he owns in Palm Beach, Fla.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.