Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he will not seek re-election in 2024

(Leah Willingham/Associated Press)

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he will not seek re-election in 2024

Elections 2024, Homepage News


November 9, 2023

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election in 2024, giving Republicans a prime opportunity to gain a seat in the heavily Republican state.

Manchin, 76, said in a statement that he made the decision after months of deliberation and lengthy conversations with his family.

“I believe in my heart that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia. I have made one of the most difficult decisions of my life and decided that I will not run for re-election to the United States Senate, but what I’m going to do is travel around the country and speak out to see if there’s interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.

His decision to retire seriously hampers Democrats’ hopes of holding on to the coal country seat. In recent years, Manchin was the only Democrat elected to statewide office in West Virginia. He was a longtime politician who served as governor, secretary of state and state legislator.

Republican challengers began clamoring for the Senate seat even before Manchin’s announcement, with Republican Rep. Alex Mooney jumping into the race less than two weeks after winning his fifth term in the House of Representatives.

2024 was already shaping up to be a tough election cycle for Senate Democrats. The party will be forced to defend 23 seats, including three held by independents, compared to just 10 seats for Republicans. Manchin is one of only three Democratic senators up for re-election in 2024 representing a presidentially won state


Trump, a Republican, in the 2020 election.

Manchin, a conservative Democrat, was both a critical voice and a constant headache for his party in the first two years of his presidency


Biden’s term. In a 50-50 chamber that Democrats controlled through the virtuality of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, Manchin used his political power to shape legislation to his liking.

Along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a Democrat who switched to an independent after last year’s midterm elections, he helped water down much of Biden’s social spending agenda. He has often clashed with members of his own party over his strong support for coal and other fossil fuels.

Days before last year’s midterm elections, he blasted Biden for being arrogant and divorced from reality after promising to close coal-fired power plants and rely more heavily on wind and solar power in the future. He demanded a public apology from Biden, and the White House obliged, issuing a statement saying the president would regret it if anyone who heard those comments felt offended.

Manchin’s announcement comes just a year after Democrats increased their Senate majority to 51-49 by flipping a Republican-held seat in Pennsylvania. The practical effect of that victory gave Democrats the ability to pass bills while losing one vote within their caucus, removing Manchin’s power to single-handedly thwart some of his party’s priorities.

Manchin regained some of that influence after Sinema switched parties, although she made clear she would not work with Republicans. Sinema is also up for re-election in 2024, but has not yet announced her plans.

Manchin entered the Senate after winning a special election in 2010 following the death of Robert C. Byrd. He won reelection in both 2012 and 2018, with the latter campaign being his toughest in his more than three decades in West Virginia politics. He defeated Morrisey by just over 3 percentage points.

During Manchin’s first two Senate campaigns, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans, but things have changed since then. Now, about 39% of registered voters are Republicans, compared to 33% of Democrats and about 24% who are not party members.

Both chambers of the Legislature have Republican supermajorities, and Trump won the state overwhelmingly in 2016 and 2020.

Manchin’s tendency not to follow his fellow Democrats on certain key votes was a cause of fear and damaged relationships within his own party. It even prompted independent Senator Bernie Sanders to suggest he would support a primary challenger to Manchin in 2024.

Manchin’s break with the White House prompted Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to publicly invite him to join the Republican Party. There too, Manchin remained steadfast and emphasized that he saw himself as a Democrat.

During Manchin’s first two terms in the Senate, West Virginia lost thousands of coal jobs as companies and utilities turned to other energy sources such as natural gas, solar and wind power. Manchin later promoted the Biden administration’s plans to involve the state in clean energy development. But his effort to expedite permitting for natural gas pipelines and other energy projects, including a planned pipeline in his home state, failed.

Under Trump, Manchin was the only Democrat to vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and of three Democrats to back nominee Neil Gorsuch in 2017. But he voted with Democrats on other key issues, including a failed effort by Republicans in 2017 to repeal the Affordable Care Act passed under President




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