Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, announced on Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in 2024, but instead will try to create a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together. His decision has stunned the political world and raised questions about his presidential ambitions and the future of the Senate.
Manchin has been a key swing vote in the Senate, often blocking or weakening many progressive bills, such as on climate change, voting rights, student loan relief, and the Build Back Better agenda. He has also sided with Republicans on many issues, such as the filibuster, the debt ceiling, and the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
Many Democrats have been frustrated with Manchin’s actions, which they see as undermining President Joe Biden’s agenda and hurting the party’s chances of retaining control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections. Some Democrats have even blamed him for helping to put 5 million children back into poverty by opposing the child tax credit and other social programs.
“Manchin’s exit from the Senate is a gift to the Democratic Party, which can finally stop pretending that it can work with him to pass meaningful legislation,” wrote Tori Otten in The New Republic.
On the other hand, some Republicans have praised Manchin for his willingness to work across the aisle and his moderation in a polarized environment. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly helped engineer Manchin’s exit by offering him a deal to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for his retirement announcement, according to POLITICO.
Manchin’s retirement will make the Democrats’ hold on the Senate even more precarious, as West Virginia is a strongly Republican state and his seat will likely be flipped in 2024. The Democrats currently have a 50-50 split with the Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. If the Republicans gain one more seat, they will regain the majority and be able to block Biden’s nominees and legislation.
But Manchin’s announcement was also a tease. He left open the possibility of running for president as an independent in 2024, saying he wanted to “mobilize the middle” and “bring Americans together.” He said he would travel the country to “listen to the people” and “see if there is a pathway forward.”
Manchin has long flirted with the idea of running for president, and his announcement on Tuesday only added fuel to the speculation. He has been linked to the No Labels group, which is considering backing an independent presidential candidate in 2024. The group has been courting former Republican governors John Kasich of Ohio and Larry Hogan of Maryland, as well as former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who briefly explored a presidential run in 2019.
Manchin’s potential presidential bid could have unpredictable consequences for the 2024 election, as he could draw votes from both Biden and the Republican nominee, or even win some states and electoral votes. His appeal to the moderate and independent voters, who are disillusioned with both parties, could be a factor in a close race.
However, Manchin’s idea of mobilizing the middle and bringing Americans together may be unrealistic or undesirable in the current political climate, where the parties and the public are deeply divided and distrustful of each other. His vision of bipartisanship and compromise may not resonate with the voters who are looking for bold and decisive leadership.
“Manchin’s retirement may end up being his biggest tease yet,” wrote Stephen Collinson in The Washington Post. “He may find that the middle he wants to mobilize is a mirage, and that the country he wants to bring together is beyond repair.”
– Good Riddance to Joe Manchin | The New Republic, November 9, 2023
– How McConnell helped engineer Manchin’s exit – POLITICO, November 9, 2023
– Manchin decision hurts Democrats’ Senate hopes and sparks new speculation about a presidential bid – The Washington Post, November 10, 2023
– Manchin Senate Retirement Stokes Presidential Speculation – AllSides, November 9, 2023
– Manchin Teases 3rd-Party Presidential Run in Announcement – Business Insider, November 9, 2023