Senator Joe Manchin announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2024, but instead will seek to “fight to unite the middle” ground of American voters.
“I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for reelection to the United States Senate,” the West Virginia Democrat said in a video. “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.”
Manchin’s exit message is not new. In the past year, he has openly toyed with switching his political affiliation to independent. He accused other Democrats of shifting too far to the left and leaving behind more moderate voters.
He has also hinted at a third-party presidential run, insisting that an independent candidate would be able to unite a politically divided electorate. Manchin spoke in July at an event hosted by No Labels, a bipartisan centrist political advocacy group, further fueling speculation.
His announcement on Thursday focused on uniting “the middle”—and this could very well be a sign that he’ll soon announce his 2024 bid for the White House.
If that’s true, it’s worth reminding Manchin: Independent candidates tend to perform terribly, instead siphoning just enough votes away from one of the main party candidates to swing the election towards the other.
Republican senators insist—and some Democratic ones fear—that a Manchin candidacy would pull enough votes away from Joe Biden to tip the 2024 election for Donald Trump. But a July poll by Monmouth University found that if Manchin runs, it will swing the election in Biden’s favor.
Either way, is ending up as a political spoiler a risk Manchin wants to take?
This story has been updated.