Joe Manchin says he won't seek re-election in 2024
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) announced Thursday that he is not seeking re-election in West Virginia next year.
Why it matters: The retirement of the Senate's most conservative Democrat is a major blow to his party as they face a tough 2024 map.
- The centrist Democrat is widely viewed as the only candidate in his party who could win a statewide contest in the solidly red state.
Driving the news: "I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life, and decided that I will not be running for reelection to the United States Senate," Manchin said in a video posted on X.
- He said he will be "traveling the country and speaking out" to survey interest in "creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together."
The state of play: Democrats, despite their strong showings in the midterms and off-year elections, are largely on defense this cycle.
- They will aim to hold on to more than half a dozen vulnerable seats — including three in states former President Trump won by between eight and 40 percentage points in 2020.
- Unlike Manchin, Trump-state Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) are both running for re-election, as are most purple-state Democrats.
- The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee left little doubt that West Virginia is effectively ceded to Republicans, with spokesperson David Bergstein citing Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) as possible targets in a statement that didn't reference the Mountain State.
- "Democrats have multiple pathways to protect and strengthen our Senate majority and are in a strong position to achieve this goal," Bergstein said.
The other side: Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, reacted to Manchin's retirement in a one-sentence statement: "We like our odds in West Virginia."
The backdrop: A former West Virginia state legislator, secretary of state and governor, Manchin was first elected to the Senate in a 2010 special election and instantly became one of the most centrist Democrats in the chamber.
- He proved a major figure in the 117th Congress due to the Senate's 50-50 split, helping Democrats pass major COVID aid, infrastructure and economic stimulus legislation but also killing several of President Biden's nominees and his sprawling $1.75 trillion social spending bill.
- Manchin has flirted with a third-party presidential run and dropped repeated hints about leaving the Democratic Party this year.
- The group said in a statement that Manchin is a "tireless voice for America's commonsense majority and a longtime ally of the No Labels movement."
- The group said it's "gathering input from our members across the country to understand the kind of leaders they would like to see in the White House."
- It said it will make a decision by early 2024 on whether to back a ticket and who would be on it.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional context.