Manchin Will Not Seek Reelection, Plans to Travel Country
November 10, 2023 - West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, who would have been among the most vulnerableincumbents up in 2024, has decided to leave the Senate at the end of his current term.
The announcement is a blow to Democrats’ uphill fight to hold onto control of the Senate, since Manchin, one of the most conservative members of the caucus, could have been the only person to win in a state that has trended increasingly Republican.
Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., will not seek another term.
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo
“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,” Manchin said in a video message. “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, 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.”
The Democratic former governor, in his second full term as a senator, has participated in events with the group No Labels, which is seeking ballot access across the country for a potential presidential ticket.
“I know our country isn’t as divided as Washington wants us to believe. We share common values of family, freedom, democracy, dignity and a belief that together we can overcome any challenge. We need to take back America and not let this divisive hatred further pull us apart,” he said in Thursday’s announcement. “Public service has and continues to drive me every day. That is the vow that I made to my father 40 years ago, and I intend to keep that vow until my dying day.”
Race Rating Changed
With Manchin potentially in the race, the West Virginia Senate contest has been rated Tilt Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. After his announcement on Thursday, the rating was changed to Solid Republican.
Republican Gov. Jim Justice, considered the leading candidate currently in the race, is facing a contested primary against Rep. Alex X. Mooney. The deadline for candidates to file to run in the May 14 primary is Jan. 27.
“Senator Joe Manchin and I have not always agreed on policy and politics, but we’re both lifelong West Virginians who love this state beyond belief, and I respect and thank him for his many years of public service,” Justice said in a statement.
Republicans need to flip a net of two seats to take the Senate majority, or one seat if the party wins the White House next year. The party has heavily focused on West Virginia, which backed President Donald Trump over Joe Biden in 2020 by 39 percentage points.
“We like our odds in West Virginia,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines of Montana said in a brief statement after Manchin’s announcement.
Shortly after Manchin’s announcement, fellow Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s campaign sent out a fundraising message saying, “This officially makes us Mitch McConnell’s number one target. You can bet that every dollar national Republicans would have spent in West Virginia is now coming to Montana.”
Battled Over Energy
Manchin has been the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee since 2019, taking over as chairman after control of the chamber flipped in 2021. His role garnered criticism from colleagues and activists focused on combating climate change, and some questioned his personal connections to the coal industry. Manchin still owns a stake in the coal company he founded with his brother, Enersystems Inc., which his son currently runs.
“History, and West Virginians who are struggling, will not judge Joe Manchin well,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement. “Manchin’s record of enriching himself and billionaires while hurting working people would also be a disaster on the presidential stage, alienating voters across the political spectrum.”
He seemingly killed a Democratic reconciliation package in 2022 before reviving a smaller package which ultimately became the law known as the Inflation Reduction Act. That law included provisions guaranteeing future oil and gas lease sales, which Manchin said were necessary for energy independence.
Since then, he has been critical of the Biden administration’s implementation of the law, particularly on the oil and gas leasing requirements. He has also used his position on the committee to effectively block Biden nominees, including the renomination of Richard Glick for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He objected to Glick’s policies on natural gas pipelines and comments Biden made regarding coal power plants around the same time.