Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2024.
In a video statement released on social media, Manchin stated that “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. I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate.”
Manchin, the former governor of West Virginia, was first elected to Congress in 2010, in a special election held after the death of Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.V.). In recent years Manchin, one of the most moderate members of the Democratic caucus, has found himself increasingly at odds with the party.
The animosity came to a head after the 2020 election when Democrats secured one of the slimmest majorities in the history of the Senate. On issues related to climate change, voting rights, and Covid-19 relief, Manchin positioned himself as a one-man obstacle to Democratic legislation, repeatedly breaking down negotiations on key policy goals for the Biden administration.
As previously reported by Rolling Stone, Manchin’s opposition to major climate legislation can be best explained by his connections to West Virginia’s coal industry. The senator amassed a net worth of more than $12 million, much of it from kickbacks and deals with major coal plants. In 2022, Manchin was the senator receiving the most campaign cash from the oil-and-gas industry, and his connections to the industry repeatedly raised concerns of a major conflict of interest for one of the most influential senators in recent years.
In deep-red West Virginia, Manchin’s retirement leaves his seat vulnerable for Democrats already fighting to keep their slim majority in the Senate. Recently, he has toyed with the potential of a third-party, independent run, and has been heavily courted by No Labels, an independent political activist group that claims to support bipartisan, unity candidates, but that has also crowned former President Donald Trump a “problem solver.”
While Manchin is not currently seeking re-election, he added in his retirement announcement that he will be “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.”
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