Democrat Joe Manchin revives speculation of party switch

May 3, 2023

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (Wv.) is bringing back speculation he may leave the Democratic party ahead of a tough re-election battle.

Manchin spoke with effusive praise of No Labels, a non-partisan group that is pushing to get third-party presidential candidates on the ballot.

Asked if he would ever pursue the presidency on a centrist ticket, Manchin said voters are tired of “this constant, daily routine" of partisan bickering.

“People are starving, starving to work together," he said.

Manchin renews defection rumors

While Manchin has long presented himself as a voice of reason and compromise, his "bipartisan" efforts have begun to split him in half.

Republicans have pressured Manchin for flip-flopping on Biden's climate bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, which Manchin helped pass. Manchin is now pledging to help repeal it, saying Biden misled him and the country.

While his famous "bipartisan" streak has angered the left, Manchin's on-again, off-again support of Biden's agenda has made him unpopular in West Virginia, where President Trump won by almost 40 points in 2020.

Formally severing ties with the Democrats could be a face-saving maneuver for Manchin if he decides to seek another Senate term, which he hasn't promised he will do.

If he does run, Manchin is facing a potentially tough challenge from the state's popular, Trump-allied Republican governor Jim Justice, although Justice would first need to win his primary against Republican Alex Mooney (Wv.).

Intentions unclear

Manchin is known to flex his power as a "moderate" in a narrowly divided Senate, and he is often cagey about his next moves, a habit that has encouraged rumors aplenty.

In recent months, Manchin has said he has "no intention" of switching parties "right now" and that he identifies "as an American."

He complained about being labeled in an interview with Meet with the Press, saying, "Can’t I be a moderate, centrist with whatever identification or no identification?”

Manchin has also promised to win "any race" he enters, and he has pointedly withheld an endorsement of Biden's re-election campaign as the Democratic party machine rallies behind the 80-year-old president.

Manchin says he won't make his decision until the end of the year. Until then, it looks like he'll leave America guessing.


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