CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin soundly defeated Republican businessman John Raese Tuesday to claim his first full term in the U.S. Senate.
Manchin was leading Raese 61 percent to 36 percent, with unofficial results for 93 percent of precincts statewide. Mountain Party challenger Bob Henry Baber had 3 percent of the vote.
Speaking to supporters in his home county of Marion Tuesday night, Manchin pledged to continue his trademark approach to governing in Washington.
"I have found out that commonsense is not real common in Washington, and that's the thing we've got to bring together," he told supporters.
Manchin vowed to continue working across the aisle to do what was best for the state.
"It's time to start bringing this country back together," he said. "We have to end the partisan politics."
The 2012 contest was a rematch of the 2010 special election to fill the final two years of Sen. Robert C. Byrd's term in the Senate. Byrd died in July of that year.
Manchin beat Raese by 53 percent to 43 percent in that race.
Just as he did in 2010, Raese tried to use President Barack Obama's unpopularity in West Virginia in his campaign against Manchin.
While both are registered Democrats, Manchin is far more conservative than the president.
During his two years in the Senate, Manchin has differed with Obama on matters such as the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the conduct of the war in Afghanistan, and a host of fiscal policy issues.
Despite those differences, Raese said Manchin was still a Democrat, and therefore on "the wrong team" in the Senate. He argued a vote for Manchin would be a vote for the Senate leadership team that included Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Raese paid to put billboards around the state that included Manchin's picture as part of a "Gang of Four" that were damaging the state's coal industry.
That "gang" included Obama, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson, Manchin and United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts.
But Raese's claims were rebuked by an unlikely source -- Mountain Party nominee Bob Henry Baber.
During a debate in Shepherdstown last month, Baber bluntly called Raese's claims "bulls--t."
He later apologized for the profanity but said Manchin has a clear track record of supporting the state's coal industry.
For his part, Manchin was able to tout the support of both the West Virginia Coal Association and the UMW in advertisements this year.
Raese described the coal association as "shallow" and "lemmings" for their support of Manchin.
But Manchin insisted during the campaign he represented traditional West Virginia values.
"I've never been called a liberal," he told the Daily Mail editorial board in October. "I'm a fiscal conservative and a social moderate."
While Manchin acknowledged the country faces a "death spiral of debt," he said the problem should not be altered in a way that reduces Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits for current retirees and recipients.
Manchin said Tuesday he would continue to represent West Virginia values, regardless of politics.
"I will promise you this, my country will always come first, my state will come first -- always -- before my politics or my agenda," he said.
The U.S. Presidential race was still close while Manchin was speaking.
He said whoever is elected president should focus on bringing the country back together.
"Our political system needs fixed," Manchin said. "We need to find the purpose of why we're involved in this great experiment called democracy.
"Some people say that our best days are behind, I disagree with that," Manchin said. "Our best days our ahead."
This was Raese's fifth attempt to win statewide office. His previous U.S. Senate and gubernatorial bids in 1984, 1988, 2006 and 2010 all ended in defeat.
A 1973 graduate of West Virginia University, Raese is the chief executive at Greer Industries and has other business interests that include The Dominion Post newspaper and MetroNews radio network serving 56 stations.