Is Joe Manchin next? Strategists say the West Virginian isn’t about to leave the Democratic Party
Kyrsten Sinema’s decision to leave the Democratic Party raised immediate questions about whether Joe Manchin might follow her out the door since the two senators have often played a role in gumming up the congressional pipeline for Joe Biden’s more progressive policies in a 50-50 Senate.
But political strategists familiar with West Virginia politics say there’s little to no chance Joe Manchin leaves the party he’s been with for decades.
‘Joe Manchin will switch parties the day after the sun rises in the west,’ said one Republican strategist who works in West Virginia politics, adding Manchin’s connection to the party reflects a ‘deep sense of identity’ for the senator.
‘He views their progressive turn as an aberration historically speaking,’ the strategist said. ‘Expect him to spend the next two years voting against everything Biden wants in an effort to restore his brand as a moderate and to bury memories of his dishonesty on Build Back Better.’
‘He despises the Republican Party and would never join it,’ the strategist added.
Democratic operatives also say Manchin, despite the obstacle he’s become in some cases to the Biden administration, is a stalwart figure in the Democratic Party and will remain.
‘Joe Manchin has served in elected office going back to 1982. That’s 40 years of running and winning as a member of the Democratic Party in West Virginia,’ a Democratic strategist and former Biden campaign surrogate told Fox News Digital.
‘The senator has been successful because of his personal brand and the trust he’s built with voters over four decades, not being of the party label next to his name. I don’t think Sen. Sinema’s announcement today changes anything about Manchin’s thinking heading into 2024, when both senators are up for re-election,’ he said.
Party leaders in the Mountain State also agree Manchin is likely to stay loyal to the party he has represented for decades as secretary of state, then governor and now two-term senator.
West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Mike Pushkin said any ‘rumors’ Manchin wants to take an independent route away from the party is ‘wishful thinking’ for Republicans.
‘We have no reason to believe that any of that is the case. And that’s not what we’re hearing in Sen. Manchin’s home state of West Virginia,’ Pushkin said.
Pushkin’s counterpart in the state, Elgine McArdle, chair of the West Virginia Republican Party, agreed that, ‘Joe is so ingrained with the Democratic Party, always has been.’
McArdle said she hopes Manchin finds more common ground with Republicans in the next Congress but noted that, in the times when Manchin did break Republican, it was often following Sinema’s lead.
‘I think he has certainly gone there eventually but has never been the first one to jump ship,’ McArdle said. ‘I can’t see him leaving the Democratic Party completely. I’d be very shocked.’