Manchin is a rare Democrat elected in the deeply red state of West Virginia. His departure positions Republicans to take control of the seat in a fiercely divided Senate
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin made a surprise announcement Thursday that he won't seek reelection to the U.S. Senate, explaining in a video posted to social media he wants to create "a movement" to bring Americans together.
"After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia," the Democrat, 76, said in his statement.
"I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate, but what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together," he added.
To the West Virginians who have put their trust in me and fought side by side to make our state better – it has been an honor of my life to serve you. Thank you. My statement on my political future: pic.twitter.com/dz8JuXAyTL
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) November 9, 2023
Manchin was the governor of West Virginia from 2005 until 2010, when he was elected to the Senate in a special election. His tenure in Congress has courted controversy among fellow Democrats, as he's repeatedly blocked the party's agenda to appease his conservative voter base.
With Manchin out of the race, Republicans are likely to pick up a Senate seat in West Virginia, a deeply red state, and could therefore take control of the upper chamber, which leans Democratic by a razor-thin margin.
Manchin's announcement will likely do little to quell speculation that he is interested in exploring a third-party presidential bid. The self-described "moderate Democrat," who has previously said he wouldn't rule out changing parties in the future, appeared at an event in July hosted by No Labels, a group exploring the idea of nominating third-party candidate to the 2024 presidential race.
Manchin told both The Hill and Fox News in 2021 that he had offered to leave the Democratic Party and become an independent (while still voting with the Democrats) during talks about President Joe Biden's sweeping spending package, the Build Back Better Act.
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He has also fielded questions about switching parties in the past. Speaking to reporters in the wake of his colleague Kyrsten Sinema's decision to become an independent earlier this year, Manchin said he had "no intention" of following suit — but that he wasn't ruling out a party switch in the future.
"Whether I do something later, I can't tell you what the future's going to bring. I can only tell you where I am and my mindset," he said, per The Hill.
Earlier this month, he said he was "having a hard time" with his plans for the future, telling reporters during an event in Charleston: “The two-party system, unless it changes, will be the downfall of our country," the Associated Press reports.
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