Dozens of Democratic insurgents flipped the script on the old guard of the state party.

By Daniel Boguslaw, The Intercept

For decades, Sen. Joe Manchin has presided over West Virginia’s Democratic Party, crowning candidates and throwing cushy appointments to allies while the state’s jobs, wages, and environment have gradually been ground to dust. But earlier this month, a grassroots slate of over 50 Democrats took control of the West Virginia Democratic Party after winning a majority of seats on the executive committee and ousting party leadership, thus ending Manchin’s de facto control of the state party apparatus.

Tourists visit the grounds of the West Virginia Capitol Complex on a late summer afternoon.

Now, after a six-year organizing push, every old guard party apparatchik — save for the treasurer — is out of office, replaced with activists from across the Democratic spectrum set on revitalizing the state and forcing renewed support from the national party. The June 18 victories mark the beginning of the end for an era defined by atrophy, nose-diving voter rolls, and just a single Democratic statewide representative: Manchin.

They did it by flipping the script on the Democratic Party. After Manchin and the Democratic National Committee used the bylaws governing unelected superdelegates to throw West Virginia’s 2016 presidential primary for Hillary Clinton — despite the fact that Sen. Bernie Sanders won every county in the state — activists used the DNC’s own rules to unseat the base of one of its most powerful members. They sowed the seeds of power by demanding that the party make good on its rules governing gender and racial equity in its staffing as well as those governing free, fair, and timely leadership elections.

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