Three days after his Arizona colleague Kyrsten Cinema announced that he was also leaving the Democratic Party to become independent, Senator Joe Manchin on Monday left the door open to one day becoming independent.
Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, DW.Va.’s Manchin claimed he was currently the “most independent person” in the Senate and confirmed he had previously considered making changes in party membership.
He never prevented a split from the Democrats, but said he had no such plan of action.
“I don’t know how you can be more independent than me,” she said. “I’ve been looking at all of these, I’ve always looked at them all. But I have no intention of doing anything right now. Even if I do something later, I can’t say what the future will bring.”
Manchin echoed long-standing criticism, arguing that Americans are “very upset” and “do not like the ongoing bickering” in politics.
“I’m not a Washington Democrat, I don’t know what to tell you,” Manchin said. “But I have a lot of friends who aren’t Washington Republicans, and as I said, if a Washington independent is more comfortable, we’ll see what happens there, we’ll have to see. People were signing up more. They’re more independent from any party affiliation. They’re sick of it.”
In the current 50-50 Senate, Manchin and Cinema, seen as two of the most centrist members of the Democratic party group, had particular influence over which legislature and candidates could move forward.
Manchin said he didn’t let him know before Cinema made its announcement on Friday, but said he “respected his decision” and thought he “given some pretty good reasons” for his reasons.
“You have to respect that every senator here has to make his own decisions, and I trust them all and respect the decisions they make,” Manchin said. “It doesn’t change how I work with them. It doesn’t change anything.”
Manchin and Cinema will be re-elected in 2024. He said he has yet to decide on Monday whether he will run.
Cinema’s change of party has been criticized by some, such as Vermont’s independent Senator Bernie Sanders, as a possible political move aimed at securing better luck for himself, given his positions on issues such as the minimum wage and tax increases are at odds with the Democratic base.
However, Manchin said that this is not interested in his politics.
“I’ve always said that, and I would say to all the wonderful people who listen to you: Look at the context, look at what the person is, what they add to it, do they represent you?” said. “Does having a D, I, or R change who they are and how they represent you?”
When it came to his own potential reelection bid, Manchin rejected the role his membership might have had.
“Everyone is running against me,” he joked.