OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Could West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin be on his way out?
That’s being suggested — or at least posed as a question — in a new Politico report.
The report notes that Manchin implied back in 2018 that he would not run for re-election in 2024.
However, Manchin has become one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, D.C., now that Democrats desperately need his votes in the U.S. Senate, which is currently locked at 50-50.
Joe Manchin strongly signaled in 2018 that his brutal reelection campaign that year was his last. Now, as he marshals the entire Senate in his centrist direction, he’s not so sure he’ll call it quits.
The West Virginia Democrat is steadily padding his campaign coffers, raising $1.6 million in the first six months this year and sitting on nearly $4 million for a potential race that wouldn’t occur for three years. His colleagues say he’s not acting like a senator in his last term, despite his famous assertion during his last campaign that Washington “sucks.”
Manchin said that the Senate has recently “accomplished more than we have for the 10 years I’ve been here.”
“You never know. You don’t know. There’s always a chance, absolutely,” Manchin said in an interview.
When asked about running for re-election in 2024, which is also a presidential year, Manchin said: “You better be prepared, that’s all I can say. And I’m being prepared.”
Back in 2018, @Sen_JoeManchin seemed pretty clear he was running his last race. But at the peak of his power, he now says "you never know" when asked if he'll run again in 2024. (via @burgessev) https://t.co/6yT3s1vx9z
— Anthony Adragna (@AnthonyAdragna) July 26, 2021
The Politico reported added:
In 2018, during an interview on his state’s Eastern Panhandle, Manchin was sure that he wouldn’t run again: “It’s my last campaign for Senate, I know that. I know that for sure.” But so much has changed to make the Senate a more comfortable place for the most conservative Democrat in the chamber.
Three years ago, the anti-abortion, fiscally moderate Manchin never could have predicted he’d find himself with veto power over Democrats’ agenda and governing beside President Joe Biden, revered in the party’s centrist wing. But during just six months as a must-have swing vote, the voluble West Virginian has steered Democrats away from steamrolling through a progressive agenda, demanding legitimate attempts at bipartisanship on infrastructure and even voting rights.
He has resisted calls to kill the filibuster to allow the majority party to go around the minority, an insistence that partly stems from Manchin’s fresh memory of six years in the minority, four of which he spent under former President Donald Trump. He’s repeatedly flirted with running for his old job as governor again, but his place in the Senate is now more influential than he ever imagined.
Even some lawmakers recognize Manchin is in a peculiar situation.
“I’m not surprised he’s keeping all his options open for 2024. He’s a competitor. He loves the political arena,” Virginia GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said.
“It’s always hard for governors to make the transition to Senate. I say that as a former governor myself. But Joe’s in the mix on everything at this point. I’ve not pressed him on what his plans are, but obviously, he is doing some fundraising,” Virginia Democrat Sen. Mark Warner said.