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Long-Serving Democratic Senator Leaves Party, Registers As An ‘Independent’

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A long-time Democratic senator who also once served as a governor has decided to shun his party and become a registered Independent.

Sen. Joe Manchin has followed in Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s tracks and, before them, former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, in leaving the Democratic Party for ‘independent’ status to better reflect their moderate political views.

In a news release, Manchin, who is not running for re-election, said he switched his party affiliation at the West Virginia State Capitol, Fox News reported. Sinema is also not running for reelection.

“From my first day in public service in 1982, I have always focused on doing what’s best for my state and my country, without regard to party or politics. Throughout my days in elected office, I have always been proud of my commitment to common sense, bipartisanship, and my desire to bring people together. It’s who I am. It’s who I will always be. I have never seen America through a partisan lens,” Manchin said in a statement.

“However, since becoming a United States Senator in 2010, I have seen both the Democrat and Republican parties leave West Virginia and our country behind for partisan extremism while jeopardizing our democracy. Today, our national politics are broken and neither party is willing to compromise to find common ground. To stay true to myself and remain committed to put country before party, I have decided to register as an independent with no party affiliation and continue to fight for America’s sensible majority.”

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Fox News cited sources and local news reporting to note that moderate Republicans are encouraging Manchin to run for West Virginia governor. He served one term already (2006-2010), so he could feasibly serve another one.

Questioned about those reports last week, Manchin downplayed the rumors but would not rule them out. He said the Democratic nominee, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, is a friend.

“I heard that this morning, the rumors. I’ve supported my friend Steve Williams; we’ve known each other for 40 years and got him involved. He’s a good person. I don’t know what’s going on. So basically, I’ll just wait until I go home,” Manchin said.

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“The talk about the possibility of Joe Manchin running for West Virginia governor again is real,” wrote Hoppy Kercheval, a news anchor and one of the state’s most recognizable media figures.

Sinema announced her decision not to seek a second term in March. She said she believes in her deal-making approach to politics, “but it’s not what America wants right now.”

“Because I choose civility, understanding, listening, working together to get stuff done. I will leave the Senate at the end of this year,” Sinema said in a video message.

“Despite modernizing our infrastructure, ensuring clean water, delivering good jobs and safer communities, Americans still choose to retreat farther to their partisan corners. These solutions are considered failures either because they are too much, or not nearly enough,” Sinema added. “We’ve arrived at that crossroad, and we chose anger and division.”

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“By standing up to short-sighted partisan ideas, I protected our country’s economic growth and competitiveness, and kept taxes low during a time of rampant inflation,” Sinema added in her statement.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, has filed to run for Sinema’s seat and will face 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake. Polling at present shows a tight race.

Politico noted: “Sinema’s decision continues an exodus of consensus-building centrists that, for a couple short years, essentially ran the upper chamber. Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) already announced they would be leaving after their current terms, and Sinema’s decision to join them will not only change the landscape of the Senate electoral map, but also the complexion of the chamber itself.”

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