Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) addressed speculation that he, too, may leave the Democratic Party after fellow centrist Kyrsten Sinema announced last week she changed her party affiliation to become an Independent.
“I’ll look at all of these things. I’ve always looked all these things but I have no intention of doing anything right now,” Manchin told reporters Monday of his desire to remain in the Democratic Party.
He left open the possibility that that could change in the future.
"I'm not a Washington Democrat, I don't know what to tell you," Manchin added. "But I have a lot of friends who aren't Washington Republicans, and if a Washington Independent is, as I said, more comfortable, you know, we'll see what happens there, we'll have to look. Whether I do something later, I can’t tell you what the future’s going to bring. I can only tell you where I am and my [current] mindset," he said to reporters.
Last year, amid disagreements with his colleagues over Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, the West Virginia Democrat said he’d be willing to become an Independent if it would “publicly” help Democratic leadership as they faced pressure from activist groups.
“What is true is that I have told the president, Chuck Schumer, and even the whole caucus that if it is ‘embarrassing’ to them to have a moderate, centrist Democrat in the mix and if it would help them publicly, I could become an Independent — like Bernie — and then they could explain some of this to the public saying it’s complicated to corral these two Independents, Bernie and me.”
Contrary to the way Sinema’s decision has been received by some on the left, Manchin spoke kindly about her move, saying, “I tremendously respect her decision and wish her the best.”
He said he still plans to work with her “every day,” the same as I have before.”
Joe Manchin on why he’s not shutting door to becoming an independent. “I don't close my door on anything”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 13, 2022
But he told me that it’d be “tougher” to run as an independent in 2024
“Usually, it’s not established as well. So, the bottom line is you don't have establishment there”