Manchin, 76, defied political gravity by holding on to his seat in deep red, but the next GOP primary for Gov. Jim Justice or Rep. Will face long odds against Alex Mooney (W.Va.). year.
Facing what he knows could be the race of his life, Manchin has been weighing whether to retire from politics altogether or run for president as a third-party candidate backed by centrist group No Labels.
His announcement video suggests he has yet to choose a retirement path, as he said he plans to travel the country “if he’s interested in building a movement to mobilize the middle class and bring Americans together.”
After the announcement, Manchin’s spokesman, Sam Runyon, declined to comment on whether Manchin plans to pursue a presidential run.
A No Labels spokesperson said the group will decide whether to nominate a ticket and who will be on it by early 2024.
Whatever he decides to do next, his decision not to run for office sets back Democratic hopes for 2024 as they face a brutal map. The party now holds a narrow 51-49 majority and must protect vulnerable incumbents in red states like Montana and Ohio and purple states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.
Democratic senators, who have expressed frustration with Manchin for blocking some of President Biden’s legislative priorities, have pushed hard in recent months to get Manchin to run again for the Senate, knowing he is the best chance to hold the seat. .
After the announcement, Democrats said they hoped to expand the map to Florida or Texas, states that voted for Donald Trump in 2020 and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rick Scott is up for re-election in 2024.
“Democrats have many ways to protect and strengthen our Senate majority, and are in a strong position to achieve this goal,” David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Division, said in a statement.
“In addition to protecting our battle-tested incumbents, we’ve already expanded the battleground map to Texas and Florida, where strong Democratic candidates are upending unpopular Republican incumbents, and DSCC is making investments to lay the foundation for our campaigns’ victories.”
Manchin, who strongly supported Trump in 2020, has repeatedly distanced himself from President Biden ahead of next year’s election..