Joe Manchin won’t run for reelection, giving GOP an opening to flip West Virginia seat

Originally Published: 09 NOV 23 14:40 ET
Updated: 09 NOV 23 21:11 ET

(CNN) — Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia will not run for reelection in 2024, the moderate Democrat announced on social media Thursday, a blow for his party’s chances to hold control of the Senate in next year’s election.

“After months of deliberation and long conversation with my family, I believe, in my heart of hearts, that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia,” Manchin said in a message posted on social media. “I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life, and decided that I will not be running for reelection to United States Senate.”

The Democratic Caucus controls the chamber with a narrow 51-49 margin, and Manchin’s decision not to run again in such a deeply red state puts Democrats in a tough spot, as they’ll be defending seats in other competitive states.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released a statement minutes after Manchin’s announcement, saying, “We like our odds in West Virginia.”

Manchin made clear in his announcement Thursday that he would not be leaving politics.

“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,” he said.

It’s unclear what specifically Manchin will do after leaving Capitol Hill. Earlier this year, he stoked speculation of a third-party presidential campaign, when he spoke at a No Labels forum at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.

“I’ve never been in any race I’ve ever spoiled. I’ve been in races to win,” Manchin said at the time in July. “And if I get in a race, I’m going to win.”

Throughout his time in Washington, Manchin has found himself at odds with members of his own party, both in and out of the Capitol. Despite helping the president notch some key legislative wins in the first half of his presidency, the senator has also been an outspoken critic of Joe Biden, especially on issues of the environment, energy and the economy.

Biden paid tribute to the West Virginia Democrat in a statement Thursday, writing that the two “have worked together to get things done for hardworking families.”

“For more than forty years – as a state legislator, a Secretary of State, a Governor, and a Senator – Joe Manchin has dedicated himself to serving the people of his beloved West Virginia,” Biden wrote, pointing towards Manchin’s support of the Bipartisan Infrastructure LawInflation Reduction Act, as well his vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, among other things.

Manchin has both stymied and supported the president’s agenda during the first term of the Biden administration. The West Virginia Democrat has clashed with the administration on climate policy, while his opposition effectively blocked the confirmation of acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and Office of Management and Budget nominee Neera Tanden, who now serves as domestic policy adviser.

That said, Manchin’s about face on the president’s sweeping climate and health care law, the Inflation Reduction Act, allowed Biden to pass what’s largely seen as one of the hallmark laws of his presidency.

As a moderate, Manchin has worked to find compromise across the aisle with Republicans and rejected extremism, a message he referenced in his announcement.

“Every incentive in Washington is designed to make our politics extreme,” he said. “The growing divide between Democrats and Republicans is paralyzing Congress and worsening our nation’s problems. The majority of Americans are just plain worn out.”

Manchin, a former governor of West Virginia, was first elected to the Senate in 2010.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s DJ Judd contributed to this report.

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