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Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has once again strongly hinted he could abandon his party in lieu of making a re-election bid as a centrist Independent ahead of what is shaping up to be a critical 2024 election cycle.
Or, he could instead choose to run on a third-party presidential ticket.
Manchin is among several centrist Democratic senators, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who frequently vote against or openly oppose policies supported by President Joe Biden and more progressive senators. Manchin is renowned for his efforts to achieve bipartisanship on significant issues, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, by working collaboratively with members from both sides of the political spectrum, the Washington Examiner reports.
In the past, Manchin has hinted he could leave the Democratic Party because Americans are “starving” for moderation between both parties. He said voters are sick of “this constant, daily routine of everyone’s against everybody and everybody’s fighting and arguing.”
“Let’s be for the country and get something done,” he said.
Manchin has highlighted his affiliation with No Labels, a centrist political group that has been striving to gain ballot access in all 50 states, enabling a third-party candidate to compete in presidential elections.
The non-profit organization aims to collect roughly $70 million to secure signatures and qualify for the 2024 ballots in various states, as reported by NPR. To date, they have obtained access in Arizona, Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon.
Asked if he would consider running for president on a No Labels ticket, Manchin responded: “People are starving, starving to work together.”
“I’ve been part of No Labels since December of 2010. It’s the only game in town that wants to bring people together and get Democrats and Republicans working together,” he added.
Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin hints he might abandon Democrats ahead of 2024 https://t.co/SUxHkMHuk0
— Patriot Alerts (@alerts___) May 3, 2023
Nevertheless, Manchin has not formally announced his plans for next year, though he already has a tough Republican challenger.
Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced last week he is running for Manchin’s seat, joining Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) as the GOP looks for what may be the easiest pickup in the Senate.
Manchin’s most challenging opponent in the Senate race appears to be Justice. According to polls, Justice is the sole Republican candidate with a lead over Manchin. The governor’s popularity rating stands at 64%, indicating that a significant number of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents approve of his work as the governor.
It remains to be seen how this popularity will translate to the Senate race. However, the survey indicated that Justice’s approval rating is 24% higher than Manchin’s.
The Examiner added: “The entry of Justice into the race is further sparking speculation that Manchin, who has beaten his Republican opponents handily since his first race in 2010, may want to avoid a close battle with narrower odds and try his hand at running for president. However, given he is not expected to make a decision until January 2024, it is likely he will keep an eye on Justice’s polling in the later 2023 months before announcing his next steps.”
Another indicator that Manchin may be considering a third-party White House bid is that he has increased his criticism of President Joe Biden, even going so far as to say he could vote with Republicans to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act because he says the administration has reneged on its pledge for new fossil fuel investments including a pipeline in West Virginia.
In January, the senator appeared on “Meet The Press” and would not say no when asked by host Chuck Todd if he would consider campaigning for president either as a Democrat or as a member of another Party.
“If you run for office in 2024, are you going to run as a Democrat?” the host said about an assumed Senate campaign.
“Chuck, I haven’t made a decision on what I’m going to do in 2024. I got two years ahead of me now to do the best I can for my state and the country,” the senator said.
“What’s on the table? It’s reelection on the table?” the host said.
“Everything’s on the table,” he said.
“Is running for governor on the table?” the host said.
“No, I’ve done that,” Manchin said definitively, which made his next answer, or non-answer, more blatant.
“So there’s basically only one other thing, the presidency. Is that something you would do outside the Democratic Party?” the host said.
“The only thing I can tell you is when I make my decision, what I think is the best I can support and represent the people of West Virginia and also be true to this country and the Constitution,” he said.
“You know where I’m going. You’re not telling me no,” the host said.
“I’m telling you I’m doing everything I can when I make my decision. I make it based on what’s best that I can do to support my country and my state,” the senator said.