Longtime West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was last reelected in 2018, which means his current six-year term is drawing to close.
While Manchin has not yet announced whether he will try and hold on to his seat, the lawmaker recently dropped a hint that he may have bigger plans for 2024.
That came as Manchin spoke with Texas Tribune co-founder Evan Smith during an appearance this past weekend at the 2023 Texas Tribune Festival in Austin.
Manchin at one point told Evans that he remains undecided about his plans for next year, saying, "My filing date isn't until January in West Virginia."
However, he did suggest that a third party presidential candidate could address political polarization seen among both Democrats and Republicans, saying, "We are in trouble and I’ve never been more concerned about the challenges we have."
Manchin is known as a relatively moderate Democrat who has been actively courted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"He feels like a man alone," The Hill quoted McConnell as saying last December. "If he were to join us he would be joining a lot of folks who have similar views on a whole range of issues."
The Hill noted that Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz have implored Manchin to switch parties as well.
"Look, one of the two parties actually likes you," Cruz recalled telling Manchin when speaking at a conservative event last year. "I hope he does. I’ve asked him to. I think every Republican senator has made that case to Joe."
However, Manchin not only gave no indication on Saturday that he would consider becoming a member of the GOP but actually lashed out at former President Donald Trump.
Yet when Machin argued that a return to office by Trump would pose a threat to the country, Smith suggested that an independent presidential candidate could help the former president.
The Tribune founder pointed out how such a candidate could siphon votes away from President Joe Biden, stressing that in 1992 Texas businessman Ross Perot managed to capture nearly one fifth of the popular vote.
Manchin replied that he is "not going to take any risk to jeopardize my country and the democracy that we have" before adding, "But to sit back and do nothing and allow the country to keep going this way?"