Manchin won’t run for W.Va. governor – Politico
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced Sunday that he won’t run for governor next year and instead plans to seek reelection to the Senate in 2018.
Manchin had been seen by many Democrats as likely to leave Washington, expressing frustration with the inability of the parties to cooperate. Instead, he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he had seen progress in breaking gridlock and wanted to continue to try to make an impact at the federal level.
“It’s been challenging, but I think we’ve made some inroads,” the first-term Democrat said. “I really believe we’ve changed the whole process to a certain extent in the Senate.”
Story Continued Below
Manchin has already served six years as governor before he was elected to the Senate in a special election in 2010, following the death of Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd. Manchin said Sunday that leaving the governorship was “the toughest decision of my political life.”
“I was two years into my second term, a job I loved very much,” he said.
Manchin’s decision creates a wide open race for the West Virginia governorship in a state that’s tilted increasingly to the right in recent cycles. Manchin was viewed as a front runner for his old job; incumbent Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is term-limited. Some Democrats have stepped forward as potential candidates, including U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, who recently signaled his interest in running.
On the Republican side, GOP state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has hinted at a 2016 gubernatorial bid. Morrisey released a statement after Manchin’s announcement.
“West Virginia needs bold leadership to help create new jobs, fight against EPA overreach, and build a strong economy. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Manchin, Senator Capito, and all the members of West Virginia Congressional Delegation to help the Mountain State reach her potential,” Morrisey said.
Manchin’s decision to remain in the Senate is a coup for national Democrats, who would otherwise have faced a difficult challenge in 2018 — when Democrats will also be defending seats in Indiana, Missouri, Montana and North Dakota — recruiting another Democrat able to compete in the blue-collar, coal-industry-dominated state.
Manchin stoked speculation recently that he might relinquish his Senate seat when he commissioned a poll that showed him trouncing the field in a potential governor’s contest. The internal survey by the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group showed him with a sky-high two-thirds approval rating.
He told POLITICO in a recent interview that he was seriously mulling a return to his old job and indicated the decision wouldn’t come before Memorial Day. Manchin has betrayed frustration by the legislative logjam in the Senate, making a return to the statehouse a tempting option. At the same time, his moderate bona fides has made him an influential, sought-after vote in a closely-divided Senate.
Manchin also said it’s been challenging being a Democrat in D.C. from a fast-reddening state during the era of President Barack Obama.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Manchin said, when asked whether Obama has pushed the state’s politics to the right. “He’s made it much more difficult for a Democrat in West Virginia. If that wasn’t the case and weren’t the facts, then why would everyone use his name and his picture every time to run against a Democrat?”