Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced that he won’t run for reelection in 2024, possibly capping off a 25-year career that has included taking the slings and arrows of both sides of the political and ideological spectrum, although he didn’t close the door to seeking higher office.
Mr. Manchin, 76, made his announcement in a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“After months of deliberation and long conversation with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I have set out to do for West Virginia,” he said. “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.”
The centrist senator’s decision to not seek reelection is a blow to Democrats, who are projected by analysts to lose the Senate next year as they’ll need to defend as many as 10 vulnerable seats.
Mr. Manchin, who has been in the Senate for more than 13 years, has been seen as a possible third-party presidential candidate.
“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 said, possibly a reference to a presidential run.
Mr. Manchin has been pegged as a potential contender for the “No Labels” group, a politically centrist organization plotting a third-party run. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), another Senate moderate who’s stepping down after this Congress, has also been considered for that ticket.
Mr. Manchin has said that he would decide by the end of the year whether to mount a White House run.
His decision to step down from the upper chamber, where he has served since 2010, comes amid a tough reelection battle.
Although state offices were once dominated by Democrats in the coal-rich state, in recent decades, West Virginia has become a dark-red Republican stronghold. Mr. Manchin, through his moderate positions—appreciated by Republicans and a cause of constant tension with progressive Democrats—managed to hold onto his seat even as the rest of his state turned red.
However, due to his role in the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate bill in U.S. history, his future in the Senate became uncertain, and his seat was seen as a key Republican target in the 2024 election cycle.
Two primary challengers emerged prepared to take on Mr. Manchin: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, the richest man in the state, and Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.).
Given his prominence in state politics, Mr. Justice is seen by observers as the heir apparent to the Republican nomination.
The senator’s announcement will make it easier for the eventual Republican nominee to flip the seat from blue to red.
Mr. Manchin’s time in the Senate has been marked by his willingness to work with the other side of the aisle and be out of step at times with his own party on issues including spending, energy, and climate change.
During the previous Congress, his resistance to some of the president’s agenda drew the ire of progressives and even the president himself.
His opposition to key pillars of the president’s domestic policies made him, at the height of the 117th Congress, one of the most powerful men in Washington.
He and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) have been the only Democrat caucus members to consistently oppose ending the Senate filibuster. This opposition prevented Democrats from “nuking” it in 2021 when they had control of both the upper congressional chamber and the House, as the former isn’t a majoritarian body like the latter.
Mr. Manchin didn’t support the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
He also resisted calls to support President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill—whose top-line price tag was initially $3.5 trillion, although it was later reduced to $1.75 trillion—but did support a pared-down version that would become the Inflation Reduction Act. That bill, at a top-line price of roughly $745 billion, included the largest climate investment in U.S. history.
Mr. Mooney previously told The Epoch Times that when Mr. Manchin supported this legislation—which raised alarms among voters in a state that relies on coal for 90 percent of its energy—the senator sealed his political fate.
Before entering the Senate, Mr. Manchin was the governor of the Mountain State between 2005 and 2010. He also served as West Virginia’s secretary of state, in the state Senate, and in the state House of Delegates.