Joe Manchin is not a candidate 5 months before the election. But he still has time to change his mind

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Every election cycle, it seems, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin tries to find the best fit for him, dragging both sides of the political aisle — and all the electorate of his home state – with him. for a wobbly ride.

Five months before the general election, he is still not a declared candidate for any office, but he is back on the guessing game train once again. And there is still time, although less and less, to think about possible candidacies for governor, senator or even president of the United States.

After recently changed party affiliation From Democrat to independent, Manchin, 76, is content to leave the Senate in January “and be able to live a more normal life, if you will.”

But in true Manchin fashion, he leaves the door open just a crack.

“You should never say never, because you never know,” he said.

The bumpy path he has chosen, while not necessarily surprising, leaves voters who haven’t completely lost interest once again trying to figure out where Manchin is headed. One who tried to keep up, Robert Rupp, a retired Wesleyan political history professor from West Virginia, brings his own metaphor to the discussion.

“He’s a whirling dervish,” Rupp said.


Career moves for Manchin have been coming in bunches lately.

Manchin announced his change of party registration on June 1, saying he wanted to “keep fighting for America’s sane majority.” Manchin had thought about it at least as far as possible like last August.

In November, Manchin announced that he would not run for re-election as a Democrat.

Then in December at a roast in Washington, Manchin teased a potential third-party execution for the White House, joking that the nation could use someone slightly younger than the leading contenders. But in February, Manchin announced that he would not run for presidentsaying he didn’t want to be a “spoiler”.

Manchin had been in the Senate since 2010, when he won a special election following the death of Robert C. Byrd during Manchin’s second term as governor. He’s been there ever since, even though he considered returning home to run for governor again in 2016. Instead, he approved Jim Justicewho won as a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party himself a few months after taking office.

In 2019, rather than running again for governor in the 2020 election and facing Justice, who had become a rival, Manchin decided to remain senator. The move proved successful as he became a pivotal vote and go-to negotiator for Democrats in a closely divided Senate. The Biden administration’s major energy and infrastructure initiatives likely would not have happened without his buy-in.


When Manchin switched parties last month, ears perked up and whispered questions began to circulate: What does he do now? The logistics of several possible paths forward offered a glimmer of possible answers.

When he registered as an independent, Manchin met – barely – the deadline in West Virginia for candidates to…

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