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“I would think very seriously about that. I’ve been thinking about that for quite some time. I haven’t made any decisions whatsoever on any of my political direction,” Manchin said when pressed to clarify his position.
“I want to make sure my voice is truly an independent voice, when I’m speaking, I’m speaking about the good the Republicans do and the good the Democrats continue to do,” he added.
Up for re-election in 2024, Manchin potentially faces a strong challenger in Governor Jim Justice, who in a hypothetical face-off defeated the incumbent by 22 points, as shown in an ECU poll released in May. Justice would still need to emerge victorious in the GOP primary in which Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) is also running.
Manchin, himself a former governor of West Virginia, has yet to announce whether he will seek another term in the Senate and appears open to the idea of a third-party campaign for the White House in 2024.
Last December, Manchin said he had “no intention” of leaving the Democratic Party at that time, but indicated he would consider it. In the intervening months, he has bemoaned the level of division across the United States that has left “common-sense” people “politically homeless.” If he decides to leave the Democratic Party, Manchin would be following suit after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona bailed on the Democrats and became an independent late last year.
“For me, I have to have peace of mind basically,” Manchin said on Thursday. “The brand has become so bad. The ‘D’ brand and ‘R’ brand.”
Manchin also dismissed concerns that a presidential run as a third-party candidate would undermine President Joe Biden’s re-election effort in a way that would lead to victory for former President Donald Trump, saying the “bottom line” is whether “the middle” will decide to speak up.
“If we can create a movement … that people understand that we could have a voice,” Manchin said. “We could make a big, big splash and maybe bring the traditional parties, the Democratic and Republican Party — what they used to be, back to what they should be today, but they’re gone off the Richter Scale, both sides.”