WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Joe Manchin (D- WV) announced yesterday he will not seek re-election in 2024. The 76-year-old’s decision and future plans could impact Democrats in 2024.
“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,” said Sen. Manchin in a statement on Thursday.
The conservative Democrat has been both a critical vote and a headache for his party during the first half of President Joe Biden’s term. When the Senate was split 50-50, but controlled by Democrats with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote, Manchin leveraged his political power to shape legislation and curb spending.
“West Virginia had an extraordinarily powerful sitting senator,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bloodworth, Professor of of American Political History at Gannon University in Erie, Pa. “And that used to matter. It matters almost not at all in our hyper-partisan times.”
The announcement comes as a surprise to some, but Bloodworth says it was expected, given the steep hill Manchin would have faced next year. With Manchin’s exit, Bloodworth predicts the seat will go to Republicans.
“His chances for victory were slim and none,” said Bloodworth. “It’s gone. There’s zero chance of Democrats winning this seat,” he added.
Senate Democrats face a tough cycle in 2024, especially in states that lean red.
“They’ve been lucky. In ‘12, they kind of rode Obama’s coattails, in ‘18, that was an anti-Trump year. They’ve known it for years, looking to ‘24, this is a tough map,” said Bloodworth. “So you have all the headwinds. Democrats own everything in the eyes of the voters because they’re the party in charge.”
In his announcement, Manchin made it clear he’s not retiring from politics, stirring rumors of a potential run for president.
“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,” said Manchin.
Depending on what Manchin decides, it could be another headache for his own party next year.
“Many people suspect he wants to run on the ‘No Labels’ ticket. Democrats are like, ‘please, please run as an independent.’ So at least you’re not going to run on the No Labels ticket and take votes away from Biden,” said Bloodworth.
Manchin entered the Senate after winning a special election in 2010. He won reelection in both 2012 and 2018.