In a setback for the Democratic Party's ambition to retain control of the US Senate after 2024, Senator Joe Manchin will not seek re-election next year, the centrist West Virginia Democrat announced on Thursday. At the same time, he raised the possibility of causing more mischief for the Democrats, as he also teased a potential independent bid for the White House.
Manchin's move will almost certainly deliver his senate seat to the Republicans. By one measure, West Virginia is the reddest state of all: In 2020, Trump won the Mountain State by a 38.9% margin, his biggest trouncing of Biden anywhere.
Even before Manchin's announcement, the Washington Post declared the "2024 Senate map is a GOP dream." Republicans need just a two-state pickup to take over the Senate -- unless America elects a Republican vice-president/Senate tie-breaker. In that latter scenario, taking West Virginia could be all they need, provided they can hold existing Republican seats. Montana Democrat Jon Tester is also in jeopardy.
Joe Manchin news is pretty bad; he will be replaced by someone with much worse politics who will caucus with the Republicans, and the party can redirect the money they were going to spend attacking him going after Dem seats in OH/AZ/PA/WI/MI (need 1). Plus he could run for pres.— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) November 9, 2023
Manchin first entered the Senate in 2010 in a special election that determined who would represent West Virginia for the remaining two years of the term of Senator Robert Byrd, who died in June of that year. He was twice re-elected to office. However, Manchin was in for a tough 2024 re-election fight against popular Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who was leading in polls.
The 76-year-old isn't riding off into the sunset. Indeed, his words on Thursday felt more like a campaign speech than a retirement announcement:
"I've 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."
If he does run for president, he's likely to do so via No Labels, the political group that sets out to give political power to the what it calls the "commonsense majority" that lies between the polarized right and left. No Labels says it's laying the groundwork for a presidential "Unity Ticket 2024," but will only do so "if the two major parties select candidates the vast majority of Americans don’t want to vote for in 2024."
The group says it will decide by "early 2024." If it's Trump vs Biden, expect No Labels to plunge in. The group already has a glimmer in its eye for Manchin: On Thursday, No Labels issued a statement fawning over Manchin, calling him "a tireless voice for America’s commonsense majority and a longtime ally of the No Labels movement." The group stopped short of an endorsement, saying, "Regarding our No Labels Unity presidential ticket, we are gathering input from our members across the country to understand the kind of leaders they would like to see in the White House."
The grifters at the anti-Trump Lincoln Project aren't enthused about the prospect of a Manchin run via No Labels. "Don't be fooled. Joe Manchin is leaving the Senate so that he can run for President with No Labels as a third-party spoiler to President Biden," they said via the platform formerly known as Twitter, attaching a video suggesting No Labels is actually a dark-money conspiracy to re-elect Trump.
Politico credits Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with engineering Manchin's Senate departure by first encouraging Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to challenge for the seat, and then by having Montana Senator Steve Daines persuade Trump into endorsing Justice.
“You can do the math. If we don’t lose any incumbent — and I don’t think we will — he’s No. 50. And one step closer to having a majority,” McConnell said, referring to Justice. “I’ve been involved in a lot of recruiting over the years, some successfully, some not. But I think that’s the best recruiting job I ever did.”
At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had been on a personal campaign to persuade Manchin to stay in the race, reports the New York Times.
Republicans experienced a massive disappointment when an anticipated and poll-predicted "Red Wave" in 2022 failed to materialize, resulting in a lackluster House takeover, while the party fell short of a Senate takeover.
Manchin was a thorn in the side of the Democratic Party's progressive wing. “Joe Manchin watered down the Democratic economic agenda, made the cost of raising children higher and billionaire taxes lower, and now doesn’t even run for re-election,” Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee told the Times.
Manchin sold out his state with the inflation reduction act and knows that made him unreelectable. https://t.co/qwHVlml11i— The Redheaded libertarian (@TRHLofficial) November 9, 2023