West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced on Tuesday that he intends to remain in the Senate, deciding against a run for another term as that state’s governor, a position he has long called “the best job” he has ever had.
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The moderate Democrat in a statement said, “I have always said that ‘public service is not self-service.’ So, when considering whether to run for Governor, I couldn’t focus just on which job I enjoyed the most, but on where I could be the most effective for the Mountain State.”
“Ultimately, I believe my role as U.S. Senator allows me to position our state for success for the rest of this century,” the senator continued, with a spokesman noting that the senator made the decision after consulting his wife and family.
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call,Inc. via Getty Images, FILE
Sen. Joe Manchin speaks during a news conference after the Senate Democrats policy lunch at the Capitol, July 9, 2019.
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The decision is sure to have Democratic leaders breathing a sigh of relief as they work to recapture the chamber in the 2020 elections. A Manchin departure would have made that uphill battle nearly impossible.
Manchin had been mulling a return to the mountain state for some time, frustrated by the constant gridlock in Washington and bitter partisanship that has engulfed the Capitol for years. He once told members of his caucus, “The Senate sucks.”
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The senator reluctantly sought and narrowly won a second term in the Senate in 2018 with progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans gunning for him.
One of the few moderates left in the chamber, Manchin has roiled members of both parties. He touts his good working relationship with President Donald Trump, providing counsel to the mercurial president on a range of issues. Trump has even sought to get Manchin to switch parties, something the senator has said he has ruled out. Manchin enjoys a leadership post, a chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and senior posts on key committees — the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, all panels that can potentially help his state, one of the poorest in the nation.
He has voted for most of Trump’s nominees, including now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Manchin and moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joined together to announce a yes vote, ensuring the embattled judge’s confirmation after a tumultuous battle over sexual assault allegations that roiled the nation.
But the 72-year old senator has also zealously guarded liberal touchstone policies like the Affordable Care Act and is currently working with the White House and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to craft gun control legislation.
“Joe Manchin has always had a love/hate relationship with the Senate,” said Joel Payne, a former Senate Democratic leadership aide. “His style of bipartisanship and dealmaking are from a bygone Senate era that would have, in the past, celebrated his brand of pragmatism. But the constant push for purity from the Democratic base continues combined with Mitch McConnell’s grim reaper style of governing with a 50 plus one majority makes someone like Manchin a man without a country in today’s Senate.”
But Manchin is proud of his position in the middle.
“I am not beholden to the far left or the far right, and I will use my vote and my voice to bring commonsense, West Virginia values to these debates,” Manchin said Tuesday. “As I have done since coming to Washington, I will work with the President to accomplish what best serves our state and our country and I will speak truth to power when I don’t agree with the path the President has chosen to take —that is what West Virginians elected me to do!