Manchin Won’t Seek Reelection to West Virginia Senate Seat in Blow to Democrats | Politics

Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who often bucked party leadership and flirted recently with leaving the party altogether, announced he would not seek reelection on Thursday in a blow to Democrats’ chances of retaining the seat.

“After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia,” Manchin said in a video statement posted on social media. “I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for reelection to the United States Senate.”

Manchin, 76, was first elected to the Senate in 2010, after serving as the governor of West Virginia. He faced tough reelection prospects next year in the deep red state that had led many to question whether he would bow out of the race. And recent teasing about leaving the party or launching a third-party bid for the presidency added to the intrigue.

Known as a reliable thorn in Senate leadership’s side who often stalled Democrat-backed legislation in the slim majority, Manchin positioned himself squarely in the ideological center, often to the frustration of members of his own party. And he took things a step further in recent months when he appeared in New Hampshire with the No Labels group, teasing a third-party presidential campaign in 2024.

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In his announcement on Thursday, Manchin seemed to continue toying with the idea, noting that he plans to travel the country, “speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.”

“I know our country isn’t as divided as Washington wants us to believe,” Manchin continued. “We need to take back America and not let this divisive hatred further pull us apart.”

Though his White House ambitions remain unclear, Manchin told reporters earlier this week when asked about President Joe Biden’s ailing poll numbers that much time remains in the race, noting that “it’s a marathon” and adding that “everything will work out.”

With the move, Republicans likely face even better chances of flipping the West Virginia seat, as Manchin had been the rare Democrat to find a foothold in a state that strongly supported former President Donald Trump in 2020. Gov. Jim Justice and Rep. Alex Mooney, both Republicans, have already announced bids for the seat. The seat is one of a handful that Democrats were hoping to hang on to in order to keep their narrow control of the chamber.

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