Manchin not seeking re-election: What does it mean for West Virginia?

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – Joe Manchin has decided not to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

He leaves office after 14 years. He also served as governor of West Virginia from 2005 until 2010.

“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,” Manchin said in a press release.

According to Manchin, he is leaving office as West Virginia is on the upswing.

“Today, West Virginia is attracting more investment, opportunity and jobs than it has in decades. Here at home and across the country we are building more roads, bridges, manufacturing plants and energy infrastructure than almost any time in American history,” he said.

His plans after leaving office focus on uniting middle America.

“I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate, but what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together,” Manchin said. “Every incentive in Washington is designed to make our politics extreme. The growing divide between Democrats and Republicans is paralyzing Congress and worsening our nation’s problems. The majority of Americans are just plain worn out.”

According to West Virginia’s other senator, Shelley Moore Capito, Manchin is more than a colleague. He is a friend.

“Thank you Joe and Gayle for your years of service to our beloved West Virginia. I’ve enjoyed serving alongside you— our senior senator. And as you said, we still have much work ahead of us. Thank you for your friendship, Joe. I look forward to that continuing,” Capito said.

Manchin’s announcement leaves a wide open space in the race for a new front-runner- one that Congressman Alex Mooney and Governor Jim Justice are looking to fill.

“With Joe Manchin out of the race, there’s only one candidate left in West Virginia who supports the liberal Biden agenda and that is Jim Justice. Congressman Alex Mooney is the only true conservative for U.S. Senate who will fight back against the Biden agenda and that is why he will win the Republican primary in May of 2024,” Mooney’s campaign manager John Findlay said in a statement.

“Senator Joe Manchin and I have not always agreed on policy and politics, but we’re both lifelong West Virginians who love this state beyond belief, and I respect and thank him for his many years of public service,” Governor Jim Justice said.

The chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party, Mike Pushkin, said that Manchin has been a critical part of the West Virginia government for decades.

“For forty-one years, beginning with his election of the House of Delegates in 1982, Joe Manchin’s name has been synonymous with West Virginia politics and government,” he said.

The state’s Democratic Party’s outlook on the race will now have to change. Instead of putting an incumbent on the ballot, the party must turn to a candidate without the same experience and national exposure.

Manchin’s decision leaves Zach Shrewsbury as the only Democrat left in the race for Senate, and he says he is ready to step up and take the state in a new direction.

“I now need all your support as I am the Democratic candidate for Senate for West Virginia. I have the team, the resources and the resolve. Fight with me who will fight for us the working class,” Shrewsbury said in a social media post shortly after Manchin’s announcement.

State party chair Pushkin has not committed to any candidate. In fact, he is publicly doing the opposite, saying that the party needs to identify the right person for the job.

“In the coming months, we will engage in a robust political process to identify and support a canddiate who truly represents the values of West Virginia. The West Virginia Democratic Party will work tirelessly to support and elect a Senator who shows for work, pays his debts, and brings more to the US Senate than a cute dog.

The race becomes even more critical for the national political landscape, and could realistically be the race that decides which party controls the Senate.

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