Manchin is one of the few Democratic senators in power while representing a deep-red state. Candidates have already stepped forward to replace him in 2024 despite Manchin not announcing if he will seek reelection or not.
“I’m not in a hurry. I don’t have to be in a hurry,” the Democratic senator said on local radio outlet MetroNews earlier this month when asked about his plans for reelection. “The bottom line is I only care about one thing, and that’s the success of my state and people having opportunities in my state.”
Manchin is one of two senators, the other being Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), who often cross party lines to block Democratic bills. Sinema switched her affiliation from Democratic to independent last week, just days after Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) won reelection and brought the Senate majority up, 51-49.
The West Virginian senator has not been quiet about his stance toward the Democratic Party, telling CNN’s Manu Raju on Monday that he is “not a Washington Democrat.”
“I don’t know how you get more independent than I am. I’ve always looked at all those things, but I have no intention of doing anything right now. And whether I do something later, I can’t tell you what the future is going to bring,” Manchin said, per NBC News.
However, if Manchin decides not to run, Republicans believe this could be an easy win for the GOP in the next election. Many have voiced concerns that Manchin no longer represents their state despite operating in the middle and crossing the aisle on several occasions.
“If he doesn’t run, it’s a free seat for us,” a national Republican strategist said. “He’s also very difficult to beat. I think the stars have aligned for him to lose. But we can’t f*** it up, either.”
Manchin has survived several races, including in 2018, when he won against Attorney General Patrick Morrisey by a narrow margin of 3 percentage points.
West Virginia GOP Chairwoman Elgine McArdle said the 2024 election cycle will be “much bigger on a national scale,” especially as more people focus on Manchin.
“We now hold 31 out of 34 state Senate seats, and we hold 88 out of 100 delegate seats. We have every Board of Public Works seat. And then both congressional seats. The only seat that we don’t have is Manchin’s. It’s clear that he needs to go. He not only has a target on his back in West Virginia, he has a target on his back nationally,” she said, per NBC News.
However, the Democrats have hope for Manchin, should he decide to run for another term. Mike Pushkin, West Virginia’s Democratic Party chairman, said it is possible Manchin would benefit from another potentially messy GOP primary. GOP leaders have pointed to lackluster primaries and inadequate GOP candidates as a reason for their less-than-expected performance in the 2022 midterm elections.
“If he chooses to run for reelection, he’s going to be a very strong candidate, like he’s always been in West Virginia. And West Virginia has obviously trended very far to the Republican side the past few election cycles. Yet, Sen. Manchin has still been able to win statewide races here,” Pushkin said.