West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D) says he is seriously thinking about ditching the Democratic Party and becoming an Independent before the 2024 election.
In a recent chat with West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval, Manchin said that he’s not thrilled with how the Democratic brand because it’s [the] national brand. It’s not the Democrats in West Virginia.
“I’m thinking seriously. For me, I have to have peace of mind, basically. The brand has become so bad — the D brand and R brand. In West Virginia, the D brand because it’s [the] national brand. It’s not the Democrats in West Virginia, it’s the Democrats in Washington,” he said, according to The Hill.
“You’ve heard me say a million times I’m not a Washington Democrat,” he said.
While Manchin has been kicking around this Independent idea for a while now, he’s not dropping the “D” label just yet. However, he is contemplating his options for the upcoming year, weighing the possibility of seeking re-election for a fourth Senate term or pursuing a presidential candidacy supported by No Labels, a centrist bipartisan group that aims to raise substantial funds to introduce an independent third-party candidate to the presidential race.
This decision comes in the context of a challenging re-election scenario, given West Virginia’s historical support for former President Trump and recent polling that showed Manchin trailing behind potential opponents.
There’s chatter that Manchin might see a presidential run as his grand exit from the Senate rather than facing a potential loss in West Virginia. But people on both sides of the aisle are waving the caution flag, warning him that his presidential bid could end up being a Trump assist.
Manchin’s response? He’s not buying into the whole “helping Trump” idea.
“I don’t see that favoring either side because you just can’t tell how this is going to break,” he said. “If come January and February of next year these are still the main contenders, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, that’s a whole other scenario. ”
“If they are not — and it could break between now and then — that changes the game completely,” he argued. “The bottom line is, ‘Will the middle speak up? Does the middle have a voice?’”
Manchin said he’s got issues with the current state of politics and envisions the potential for a new movement to reshape the traditional parties and bring them closer to their historical ideals.
“We could make a big, big splash and maybe bring the traditional parties of the Democratic and Republican Party [to] what they used to be, back to what they should be today,” he said.
He declared both parties have strayed from their original principles and expressed his dissatisfaction with aligning himself with either party.
“I can’t accept either party, to be honest with you,” he said.