CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 100 West Virginia Democrats are expected to head to the Democratic National Convention next week in Charlotte, N.C.
Famously absent will be U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall. Each say they have better things to do back in West Virginia. At least part of that may be avoiding the shadow of President Barack Obama.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller is serving as the state Democratic Party delegation's honorary chairman next week. He is likely to cast the state delegation's votes for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden from the floor of the convention.
Rockefeller and Rahall have endorsed Obama, while Tomblin and Manchin have declined to say for whom they will vote this fall.
At this week's Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Maloney cast his party's votes on behalf of Mitt Romney. He did so wearing a coal miner's helmet. That enthusiasm so far hasn't helped him in polls that show him even less popular than Obama in the state.
State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said just over 100 Democrats, including 53 party delegates, will head to North Carolina.
Puccio said the state delegates will advocate not just for West Virginia coal miners, but also for the broad array of manufacturing jobs that he hopes will come back to the state.
"The truth of the matter is that we want to support all jobs," he said. "We feel that all families in West Virginia should have an opportunity for better-paying jobs with benefits, so we'll be supporting jobs in general."