Even though Sen. Joe Manchin said 2018 was his “last campaign for Senate,” the West Virginia Democrat now says he is not so sure he will call it quits, Politico reported on Monday.
His fellow senators say he is not acting like someone in his last term, as he is attempting to steer a bipartisan course for the upper chamber along with a like-minded group of moderates in both parties.
Manchin has already raised $1.6 million in the first six months of this year and has nearly $4 million at his disposal for an election that is still three years away.
Manchin said the 2018 campaign, which he barely won, would be his last race. But at that time, the anti-abortion, fiscally moderate senator could not have predicted that he would now have veto power over the agenda of his fellow Democrats and be governing beside President Joe Biden, who is revered in the party's centrist wing.
Manchin has used that power and influence during the first six months of the Biden administration to move his party away from steamrolling through a progressive agenda and demanding legitimate attempts at bipartisanship on important legislation, acording to Politico.
He has also resisted attempts by many other Democrats to do away with the filibuster to permit the majority party to go around the minority.
Manchin recently said, when asked if he could run again for the Senate, that “there’s always a chance, absolutely,” adding that, “you better be prepared, that’s all I can say. And I’m being prepared.”
In last year’s presidential election, former President Donald Trump won West Virginia by 40 percentage points, so many experts see Manchin as the only Democrat who has any chance of winning the state in a Senate race.
As part of his bipartisan image, Manchin has also taken the unprecedented steps of endorsing two moderate Republicans for reelection: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2022 and Maine Sen. Susan Collins last year.
Both Repubicans have said they would return the favor and back Manchin if he runs in 2024.
“He has never said to me that this would be his last term,” Collins said. “And I think that he enjoys the important, critical role he’s playing. So I would not be surprised if he sought an additional term.”
Republican West Vriginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has compared their relationship to that of a brother and sister and said “I’m not surprised he’s keeping all his options open for 2024,” adding that “he’s a competitor. He loves the political arena.”
Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, a fellow centrist and Manchin ally, said that “it’s always hard for governors to make the transition to Senate. I say that as a former governor myself. But Joe’s in the mix on everything at this point."
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