Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Thursday that he is “seriously” considering becoming an Independent and lamented that Washington Democrats’ brand had become “so bad.”
“I have to have peace of mind, basically. The brand has become so bad, the D brand and R brand,” Manchin told West Virginia Metro News “Talkline” host Hoppy Kercheval.
“In West Virginia, the D brand because it’s [the] national brand. It’s not the Democrats in West Virginia, it’s the Democrats in Washington.”
Manchin has been asked several times in the past about a possible party switch, particularly after helping kill off key pieces of President Biden’s progressive agenda like Build Back Better. He never ruled it out but has been hesitant to go much further, preferring to keep his future political plans close even in the face of a fierce GOP Senate challenge from West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.
On Thursday morning, however, he said: “I would very seriously think about [becoming Independent].”
“I’ve been thinking about that for quite some time,” Manchin said. “I haven’t made any decisions whatsoever on any of my political direction, I want to make sure that my voice is truly an independent voice.”
But he vowed to continue calling out “extremes” on both sides of the aisle.
“When I do speak, I want to be able to speak honestly about basically the extremes of the Democrat and Republican Party that’s harming our nation,” he said.
Manchin’s latest comments come after he fueled speculation of a potential third-party presidential bid when he refused to rule the idea out during a No Labels event in New Hampshire.
In his Thursday radio interview, Manchin denied that such a campaign would hurt President Biden – something the Democrat commander-in-chief’s allies have warned about.
“I don’t see that favoring either side because you just can’t tell how this is going to break,” Manchin said.
If he switches from Democrat to Independent, Manchin would be the second Senate Democrat to do so within the last 10 months after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., did so late last year.