Senator Joe Manchin (WV) is giving signals that he may follow his colleague Krysten Sinema (AZ) in leaving the Democratic party, as he faces a potentially difficult re-election battle in Trump-friendly West Virginia.
Asked about his next move, Manchin said he has “no intention” of changing parties but added, “I can’t tell you what the future is going to bring.”
Manchin could leave Dems
Democrats were outraged when Sinema left the party last week, citing the intense polarization of the political climate. Manchin broke with many on his side by praising Sinema’s decision.
“I want to work with Kyrsten everyday, the same as I have before,” he said.
For many Democrats, Sinema’s exit came as a stinging betrayal, but it also wasn’t a big surprise after she and Manchin spent much of the past two years keeping Joe Biden at arms’ length.
The senators angered many Democrats particularly by refusing to axe the filibuster, which has prevented Biden from ramming his liberal agenda through a narrowly divided Congress.
Above the fray
Like Sinema, Manchin has often sought to portray himself as being above the partisan fray. When pressed about his future with the Democrats, Manchin sought to emphasize his “independence” from more partisan colleagues but kept things otherwise open-ended.
“I don’t know how you get more independent than I am,” he said.
“I look at all of these things, I’ve always looked at all of these things. But I have no intention of doing anything right now. Whether I do something later, I can’t tell you what the future is going to bring,” he added.
Manchin had previously said last year that he’d “still be caucusing with Democrats” even if he switched to being an independent.
“Independent” supported Biden bill
West Virginia is a historically Democrat state, but it is also one of the Trumpiest in the country, making Manchin potentially one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators next cycle.
Republicans are hopeful they can tie Biden to Manchin, who was instrumental in unblocking Biden’s social spending plan, which came to be known as the Inflation Reduction Act, in a major reversal earlier this year.
Both Sinema and Manchin will be up for re-election in 2024, when Democrats are expected to be on much more unfavorable terrain in the fight for the Senate.
“I’m not a Washington Democrat, I don’t know what to tell you,” Manchin said. “But I have a lot of friends who aren’t Washington Republicans and if a Washington independent is, as I said, more comfortable, you know we’ll see what happens there, we’ll have to look,” he said.