Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the former governor of West Virginia, gave his colleagues a much-needed sigh of relief concerning the 2020 outlook. Manchin mulled another run for the governor’s mansion. He made his final decision today: he’s not going to do it. In doing so, Manchin doesn’t put a seat at risk for the 2020 cycle. Manchin appears to be the only Democrat who has survived his state’s massive red-leaning shift. The state used to be a bastion of blue-collar Democrats. At times, the state legislature was overwhelmingly Democratic. It wasn’t until 2014 that Republicans retook both houses of the legislature. It’s deep Trump country; he won with 68.5 percent of the vote. But Manchin has been able to survive comfortably. He holds a 49 percent approval rating right now. It’s not the best, but more than enough to be crowned the favorite to win the governorship in 2020 if he had decided to toss his hat in the ring (via CBS News):
JUST IN: Joe Manchin plans to stay in the U.S. Senate and will not run again next year for his old job as West Virginia governor, an aide tells @CBSNews— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) September 3, 2019
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, does not plan to run again for his old job as governor and will remain in the U.S. Senate.
Manchin had been toying for most of the summer with a possible campaign for his old job, which he left in 2010 after winning a special election for the Senate seat of the late Senator Robert C. Byrd, also a Democrat.
The decision means Manchin, one of the few bipartisan power brokers left in the sharply divided Senate, will remain in Washington as a potential emissary between the two parties on tricky issues including gun control and other domestic issues.
But Manchin hasn't shied away from criticizing his own party for its leftward lurch and is expected to continue expressing concerns with the campaigns and viewpoints of liberal presidential candidates, including his Senate colleagues Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts.
Manchin's decision was not an obvious one: CBS News reported that aides to Manchin were preparing drafts of two possible statements late Monday: One that signaled his intention to stay in the Senate and another announcing plans to run again for governor.
Manchin is one of the last red-state Democrats on the Hill. He’s a Democrat who, wait for it, isn’t totally insane. He will vote for whatever is best for his state. He’s not a progressive left-winger. He’s held positions that you could describe as pro-life, anti-EPA, and pro-gun rights. He did get behind a universal background check bill—Manchin-Toomey—which drew the ire of the Second Amendment crowd and the National Rifle Association, but he’s not a Moms Demand anti-gunner either. He’s a solid retail politician; even West Virginia Republicans like him. Manchin has more than once warned Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that if red-state Democrats are wiped out, it will be very hard for the party to win elections. And a far-left extremist agenda that’s being peddled right now for the 2020 crop just shows that the party seems to be heading in that direction. Manchin could be the loneliest Democrat in the Senate. His votes for Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh certainly didn’t earn him any love from the Left, but as he said many times—re-election isn’t on his mind all the time. If he’s voted out, he’ll happily go home. In the meantime, he’s the voice for the last sliver of Democrats who aren’t caught up in the cancel/political correctness culture that’s infested liberal politics.