Washington —West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced Thursday he will not run for reelection to the Senate in 2024, giving Republicans an opportunity to pick up a seat in the deep-red state.
“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, 76, said in a video announcement. “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.”
His statement indicated that growing political divisions played a role in his decision not to run. He would have faced a difficult reelection bid, with West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, mounting his own bid for the seat. West Virginia has voted for every Republican presidential candidate since 1996.
“Every incentive in Washington is designed to make our politics extreme,” Manchin said. “The growing divide between Democrats and Republicans is paralyzing Congress and worsening our nation’s problems.”
Manchin is the most moderate Democrat in the Senate and was seen as the party’s best hope of keeping the seat, even as he frustrated his colleagues by holding up some major Democratic priorities. He delayed passage of what eventually became known as the Inflation Reduction Act, withholding his support for months until the original $3.5 trillion proposal was pared back. He has since threatened to try to roll back the legislation.
Manchin had for months played coy about his political future, saying “everything’s on the table and nothing off the table.” He told “” in June he thought he would win reelection if he decided to run.
Manchin has long flirted with leaving the Democratic Party, and his announcement appeared to leave the door open to a potential third-party or independent presidential run. But a top Manchin aide told CBS News that his plans to travel around the country should be seen as an attempt to maintain his centrist political capital in the Senate, not as a sign he’s going to run for president as an independent or part of a third party.
Ed O’Keefe contributed reporting.