Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday he was “seriously” considering leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent.
“I’m seriously thinking. For me, I basically have to be calm. The brand has gotten so bad. The “D” brand and the “R” brand, Manchin (D-WV) told Mountain State radio host Hoppy Kercheval. “You’ve heard me say a million times: I’m not a Washington Democrat.”
The 75-year-old Manchin has been at odds with President Biden over energy policy in recent months, accusing his administration of “ignoring” domestic fossil-fuel expansion provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act — which he co-sponsored and helped pass .
The senator also threatened to block Environmental Protection Agency candidates to protest Biden’s “radical climate agenda” after he presented a proposal to drastically cut emissions that he said would endanger the US power grid.
Manchin, who is up for re-election in 2024, said Thursday he’s “been thinking about it for quite some time” and wants to “ensure my vote is truly an independent vote” but hasn’t “made any decisions yet.” .
“When I’m ready to make a decision, I’ll come to you,” he told Kercheval.
Manchin has not yet announced whether he will seek a third full six-year Senate term – but last month he was headlining a community event in New Hampshire amid speculation of a possible third-party presidential nomination.
“I have never entered a race that I spoiled. I raced to win, and if I race, I will win,” Manchin said during a panel discussion with former Utah Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman. according to appeal.
When asked Thursday if he had considered attending the event in a state with early voting, Manchin disagreed.
“I think people put the horse on the back. We’re here to make sure the American people have an option. And the option is: Can you sway the political parties from their respective sides?” he said. “You went too far to the right and too far to the left.”
The bipartisan group No Labels hosted the New Hampshire event after touting an “insurance plan” to present a 2024 Unity ticket that would target both President Biden and former President Donald Trump.
Most Americans say 80-year-old Biden and 77-year-old Trump are “unfit for another term,” and nearly half would vote for a third-party candidate next year if both were re-nominated, recent polls show.
No Labels founder and former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who switched affiliations from Democratic to Independent in 2006, has vowed the group will not enter the presidential race as “spoilers” for any of the major parties.
Trump’s ally and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced in April that he would run for Manchin’s seat in 2024 a double digit lead about the Democratic incumbent.
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) is also seeking the Mountain State GOP nomination, which Trump won in the 2020 election by a margin of 39 percentage points.
Manchin would become the second Democrat, after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), to change his party affiliation to Independent in the past year. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) left the Democratic Party in December 2019.
“I have joined the growing number of Arizonans who reject partisan politics by declaring my independence from Washington’s broken partisan system,” Sinema wrote in a December 2022 editorial announcing her departure.
Around the same time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) floated the idea of Manchin joining the Republican Party, where “he would join a lot of people who have similar views on a whole range of issues have”.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Angus King of Maine are long-time independents who have chosen to meet with House of Lords Democrats.
Sanders was elected to the Senate in 2006 while King was elected in 2012.