Alabama coach Nick Saban — Joe Manchin's longtime friend — signs letter urging the West Virginia senator to support voting rights

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Nick Saban / Joe Manchin
Nick Saban and Joe Manchin.Getty Images
  • Alabama football coach Nick Saban signed a letter pushing Joe Manchin to support voting rights.

  • Saban and Manchin have a long friendship dating back to the football coach's childhood.

  • Manchin has resisted calls to amend the filibuster to push voting-rights legislation through.

The University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban signed a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — his longtime friend — pushing him to support voting-rights legislation.

The letter to Manchin, dated January 13 and signed by Saban, a West Virginia native, urged Congress "to exercise its Constitutional responsibility to enact laws that set national standards for the conduct of Federal elections and for decisions that determine election outcomes."

"We strongly support urgently needed legislation that will protect both the rights of voters and the integrity of outcomes in all Federal elections," the letter said, adding that a bill called the Freedom to Vote Act "effectively addressed these goals."

Senate Democrats have sought to follow through on their promise to advance voting-rights legislation. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, both key Democratic votes, have expressed support for two major bills, including the Freedom to Vote Act. But neither supports changing Senate rules requiring 60 votes to pass most legislation, meaning both bills would fail in the face of united Republican opposition.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports that Saban asked for a footnote to be included in the letter stating that the coach is not calling for the Senate to gut the filibuster. The note makes clear that Saban is not undercutting Manchin's defense of the filibuster, which the senator has faced immense criticism from Democrats for taking.

Saban was joined by other West Virginian sports figures including the former NBA player Jerry West, the former NFL players Oliver Luck and Darryl Talley, and the former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Saban and West both endorsed Manchin during his 2018 reelection campaign, appearing in a 30-second campaign ad called "Coaches."

Saban is also a longtime supporter and friend of Manchin's. Saban's father was even a mentor to Manchin, according to the sports media website On3.

"He was my idol when I was in high school," Saban said of Manchin, according to On3.

Manchin once told ABC News that he called the Alabama coach "Brother Saban."

"They were 4 miles from where I grew up," Manchin said. "We go on vacations together. I'm the godfather to his son."

At least one Republican has objected to Saban's endorsement of the voting-rights bill. Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina tweeted on Tuesday, "Nick Saban should focus on winning National Championships instead of destroying our elections."

Saban has won the most national championships of any coach in college-football history. While his Crimson Tide fell short earlier this month, he has seven rings: six with Alabama and an earlier one with Louisiana State University.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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