Joe Manchin Leaves Democrat Party, Fueling Speculation on His Next Move

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., waves to visitors on the Senate steps as he leaves the Capitol
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is finally pulling the trigger. The West Virginia senator announced Friday he will leave the Democrat party, a long-speculated move for the retiring senator.

“My commitment to do everything I can to bring our country together has led me to register as an independent with no party affiliation,” Manchin posted on X:

Manchin’s party affiliation might not change his style of governance. He reportedly will continue caucusing with Democrats, joining three other independents.

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Angus King (I-ME) also style themselves as moderates, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-NH) has used his progressive stances to power a large fundraising operation and two presidential runs:

By continuing to caucus with Democrats, Manchin can continue chairing the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

However, the timing of Manchin’s announcement, less than 24 hours after a Manhattan jury found former President Donald Trump guilty on 34 counts for falsifying business records, fuels speculation about his next move.

Manchin could opt to run for a third Senate term as an independent. Potential candidates for West Virginia’s Senate seat reportedly must declare themselves a member of a political party by June 1 to run in November under that party’s banner. Candidates have until August 1 to declare their intent to run:

Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV), himself a former Democrat, is the Republican nominee for the Senate seat Manchin is vacating, decisively winning a contested primary. Justice would be a tough opponent for Manchin, who has held office as a Democrat even as West Virginia has shifted massively towards Republicans.

Manchin has also flirted with the possibility of a presidential run. He has criticized President Joe Biden for hostility towards American energy and refusing to fix the border crisis that is “his fault.” And he previously expressed interest in launching a candidacy on the “No Labels” ticket, particularly if Biden had a “health scare.”

Yet Manchin announced in February he “will not be seeking a third-party run” and “will not be involved in a presidential run.”

Any opening for Manchin – or anyone else – to win as a third party or independent candidate is miniscule. The dust has yet to settle after the Manhattan jury’s monumental verdict; however, Trump’s monumental fundraising in the hours after the verdict – overwhelming traffic shut down the GOP’s online fundraising platform Thursday evening – suggests Trump might consolidate or even grow his support.

RELATED — Manchin: Biden Doesn’t Have Knowledge, Function, Ability to Unite Country

Bradley Jaye is a Capitol Hill Correspondent for Breitbart News. Follow him on X/Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.


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