Democrats are increasingly concerned that moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is contemplating a third-party presidential run next year.
The senator, who has yet to announce a reelection bid officially, is being challenged for his seat by Republican Gov. Jim Justice and is reportedly well behind the popular state leader in polls. That said, if there is a Democrat in West Virginia who could win in the deep-red state, it is him.
That said, Manchin’s moderate politics and willingness to work with the other side make him a good presidential contender for the No Labels Party, which is contemplating putting together a ticket to compete with the Democratic and Republican tickets.
“The danger of a potential Manchin presidential run is twofold for Democrats, in that they cannot afford to have a spoiler siphon votes away from Biden, and they also have no reliable candidate to prevent Manchin’s Senate seat from falling to Republicans,” Fox News reported, adding: “Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., said he spoke with Manchin about the issue this spring, but received a noncommittal response from the West Virginia senator.”
Hickenlooper said: “I have advised him against it. I think it would be a terrible idea. It would help Donald Trump.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) essentially agreed with his Colorado colleague, saying, “It would be bad for the country if Joe didn’t run for U.S. Senate.”
But Manchin has not ruled out a third-party bid in conversations with other Democrats and in interviews.
“Then how did Perot get Bill Clinton elected?” Manchin asked rhetorically in an interview with Politico when he was confronted with the possibility he could become a spoiler.
“Everybody’s getting so worked up and scared to death, and we’re a year and a half away,” he added. “Is there any alternative? Is there anything that we can do to bring both the Democrat and Republican Party back to centrist policy?”
Earlier this month in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Shannon Bream, Manchin was once again noncommittal regarding a third-party bid.
“Not ruling anything in, not ruling anything out,” Manchin said.
Manchin is among several centrist Democratic senators, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Tester, who frequently vote against or openly oppose policies supported by Biden and more progressive senators. Manchin is renowned for his efforts to achieve bipartisanship on significant issues, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, by working collaboratively with members from both sides of the political spectrum, the Washington Examiner reported in May.
In the past, Manchin has hinted he could leave the Democratic Party because Americans are “starving” for moderation between both parties. He said voters are sick of “this constant, daily routine of everyone’s against everybody and everybody’s fighting and arguing.”
“Let’s be for the country and get something done,” he said.
Manchin has previously highlighted his affiliation with No Labels, a centrist political group that has been striving to gain ballot access in all 50 states, enabling a third-party candidate to compete in presidential elections.
The non-profit organization aims to collect roughly $70 million to secure signatures and qualify for the 2024 ballots in various states, as reported by NPR. To date, they have obtained access in Arizona, Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon.