WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, the centrist Democrat from West Virginia, announced Thursday he will not run for reelection to the U.S. Senate in 2024.
But the retirement announcement sounded more like the launch of a new campaign: the lawmaker said he’s not done with public service and outlined his frustrations with the two major political parties. Manchin has previously said he would consider running for president with No Labels, a potential third-party effort to put forward centrist candidates to challenge President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
In a video posted to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Manchin said feels he has accomplished what he set out to do for the people of West Virginia and does not plan to run for his seat again.
“But what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there’s an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together,” he said.
To the West Virginians who have put their trust in me and fought side by side to make our state better – it has been an honor of my life to serve you. Thank you. My statement on my political future: pic.twitter.com/dz8JuXAyTL
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) November 9, 2023
America is at its best when it works across parties to find common ground, he added.
Now, partisan divisions are “paralyzing Congress and worsening our nation’s problems. The majority of Americans are just plain worn out.”
The cost of food and fuel are increasingly out of reach for many Americans; there’s a crisis at the southern border, and the national debt is out of control, Manchin said. He touched on the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Hamas, and he said the U.S. must provide aid without being pulled into war itself.
“I know our country isn’t as divided as Washington wants us to believe. We share common values of family, freedom, democracy, dignity and a belief that together we can overcome any challenge,” he said. “We need to take back America and not let this divisive hatred further pull us apart.”
Manchin has served in the Senate since November 2010, when he left his position as the governor of West Virginia to succeed former Sen. Robert Byrd. He’s often been a thorn in his party’s side, breaking with the rest of his fellow Democrats over key issues such as spending and energy.
Manchin was facing a tough re-election campaign in his home state, which has become increasingly Republican in the last two decades. It has chosen the Republican candidate for president every year since 2000.
Since the beginning of 2021, his moderate positions have been particularly fractious within the party. Manchin and Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona wielded outsized influence over Democrats’ marquee climate, tax and social services legislation, which eventually became the Inflation Reduction Act.
But Democrats will not be happy to see him go. They hold 48 seats in the upper chamber along with three independents that typically vote with them, a razor-thin 51-vote margin that has made the party’s hold on power particularly slippery. Holding on to the seat will be a major challenge without a candidate that carries Manchin’s long history with the state.
Some Republican onlookers have already begun celebrating the likely shoo-in seat. The former Chief of Staff to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Josh Holmes, posted on X simply: “+1.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Manchin, the pivotal West Virginia Senator, won’t seek reelection