Sen. Joe Manchin speaks at a Veterans Day ceremony in Charleston, West Virginia, on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. (manchin.senate.gov/Courtesy photo)
Recently in a pre-recorded video, Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia’s last remaining Democrat in Congress, announced that he will not seek reelection for his U.S. Senate seat that he’s held for the last 13 years.
Sitting in front of a very presidential looking red background with a bald eagle statue on each side of him, and an American flag to his right and a West Virginia flag to his left, Manchin said that after months of deliberation with his family, he has made one of the toughest decisions of his life in deciding not to run for reelection.
“…I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia,” Manchin said.
So what is Manchin’s legacy?
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Manchin promised he’s committed to reducing the cost of prescription drugs, but he must not have discussed that with his daughter Heather Bresch, former CEO of Mylan, when she worked with Pfizer’s CEO to artificially inflate the cost of epipens.
But to his credit, he did support the Inflation Reduction Act, which reduced drug prices for Medicare recipients.
Manchin also has said that “student debt has been overly burdensome and made it harder [for] students to meet their career goals.” However, he voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s student loan cancellation program, and called it “reckless.” Thousands of West Virginians were cleared of student loan debt, no thanks to Manchin.
But Manchin’s also legacy includes:
- Voting “no” on extending the child tax credit and killing the bill, affecting thousands of West Virginians in a state with increasing child poverty rates following the pandemic.
- Supporting the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which environmentalists say will cause landslides, threaten communities and harm species in their habitats.
- Killing President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, a $2 trillion plan that would have created universal preschool and provided funding to limit child care costs.
- And who can forget, charging women with trespassing in his Charleston office for wanting to speak with him to convince him to vote against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh because of sexual assault allegations against him, and then voting to confirm him.
Now, he’s apparently laid out a red carpet to his Senate seat for Gov. Jim Justice. Sure, Democrat Zachary Shrewsbury had already filed to run against Manchin, but it’s unclear if he will garner the party’s full support. Manchin certainly didn’t endorse Shrewsbury when he bowed out. Not that that’s surprising as Manchin, a Democrat in name only, is the one who helped Justice into the governor’s office.
Now the question is, what is Manchin’s plan?
Speculation, of course, is that he will run for president of the United States, though some have suggested he will be named the new president of West Virginia University when E. Gordon Gee’s contract is up.
In his video, Manchin said “… 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.”
That sounds like someone who is going to run a third party presidential bid. Manchin is no stranger to No Labels, a political group that filed paperwork on Thursday to form a formal draft committee, according to the Associated Press. No Labels has pushed for Manchin to partner with retiring Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to form an independent ticket for the 2024 presidential election.
This seems like the more likely scenario because although Manchin often speaks of hating politics, it’s been his life for 40 years. I can’t see him leaving yet.
Less likely, is that he will be named president of WVU after Gee’s contract ends in 2025. Gee’s mismanagement of the university has really hurt its reputation, and maybe some think that Manchin can fix that.
However, remember that Manchin got tangled up with a controversy at WVU in 2008 when the university awarded his daughter a master’s degree she didn’t earn.
Maybe that’s the backup plan if a run for president doesn’t turn out.
But will that really “bring Americans together” as Manchin has said he wants to do? A third party candidacy would likely divide voters even further, and that is not what this country needs right now.
But will that matter to Manchin? Unlikely. Manchin is gonna Manchin.
“I don’t give a s–t, you understand? I just don’t give a s–t. Don’t care if I get elected, don’t care if I get defeated, how about that. If they think because I’m up for election, that I can be wrangled into voting for s–t that I don’t like and can’t explain, they’re all crazy,” Manchin told the Charleston Gazette-Mail in 2018 when he refused to sign a letter establishing a party line on tax reform.
“I’m not scared of an election, let’s put it that way. Elections do not bother me or scare me. I’m going to continue to do the same thing I’ve always done, extremely independent.”
Yes, and that’s what’s so worrisome. If you’re going to be president, you have to represent the people, not your own interests.
West Virginia Watch is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. West Virginia Watch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Leann Ray for questions: [email protected]. Follow West Virginia Watch on Facebook and Twitter.
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