Sen. Joe Manchin is reportedly thinking about leaving his Senate seat before his term ends.
The West Virginia Democrat has been extremely frustrated with the scarcity of bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill and said he is considering calls from supporters in West Virginia to run for governor next year, according to The Hill.
The centrist senator who was reelected in 2018 has reportedly told colleagues about his frustration and when asked how productive he feels he has been in the Senate, Manchin replied, “Not at all.”
“I haven’t been happy since I’ve been here. I’ve always thought there was more we can do. It’s the greatest body in the world, so much good could be done,” he said.
Manchin ran a successful stint as governor from 2005 to 2010 and was reelected to a second term in 2008, which he did not complete as he stepped in to replace former Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd following his death.
“I have people back home that want me to come back and run for governor. We’re looking at all the different plays. I want to make sure whatever time I have left in public service is productive,” he told The Hill.
The 71-year-old Democrat has frequently joined Republicans in voting for judicial nominees and other issues, but the lack of progress in the 116th Congress has caused Manchin to become exasperated, though Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer believes the senator is “content and engaged in his job,” The Hill reported.
According to The Hill:
Manchin’s patience reached a breaking point shortly before the Memorial Day recess, when the Senate finally finished debating a disaster relief bill that many lawmakers thought should have passed weeks earlier.
A Democratic senator who requested anonymity recalled Manchin getting thoroughly fed up and threatening to retire before the end of the 116th Congress.
“He said, ‘I’m out of here.’ He was all pissed off and said, ‘I’m going to be out of here,’ ” the lawmaker said.
“I think he’s been fed up for a long time,” a senator who traveled with Manchin and other colleagues recently to Greenland, Scotland and the Faroe Islands said. “He said, ‘I have so many people talking to me about whether I should or I shouldn’t [run for governor].’ ”
“One of the things you get as a lawmaker is you get lots of free advice from lots of people. He expressed frustration, and it’s the same that a lot of people share,” the lawmaker said.
“All he says is, ‘I’ll be here until 2020,’ ” another Senate colleague who spoke to the Democrat about his future plans told The Hill.
“He had a helicopter and an airplane and all that stuff when he was governor. That’s not this job. This job is different from that,” Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana said of his “good friend.”
“When things get tough, you don’t quit. You double down and keep going. I think Joe’s that kind of guy,” Tester said.
President Trump’s victory in West Virginia in 2016, winning the deep red state by 42 points, could mean a challenge to Democrats who would hope to fill Manchin’s seat should he decide to step down. His narrow 2018 reelection win over state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a race that he said earlier this year, “took a toll” on him, could also be a sign for Democrats who hope Manchin will stay put in the Senate.
While he has often voted with Republicans, angering some in his own party, Democrats would still be happy to have him over a Republican in his seat, especially if they are serious about trying to retake the Senate in 2020.
The Hill noted:
There’s no guarantee Manchin would stay in the Senate if he loses the governor’s race, but he may be inclined to stick around if Democrats have a chance to win the majority, which would make him the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
If he triumphs, Manchin could possibly appoint a fellow Democrat to replace him in the Senate, though it’s not a sure thing, according to West Virginia’s secretary of state’s office.
The chance of another Democrat winning a Senate bid in West Virginia should Manchin step down is “less than zero,” according to a Democratic strategist and former senior Senate aide.
“The part that senators like Manchin who used to be executives, in particular, struggle with is the fact that literally nothing gets done. Everybody knows the outcome before the votes even happen. There is no real desire to move legislation or solve problems, it’s all about politics, posturing and positioning,” the strategist said.
“The reality is most of the other senators don’t have other options. They can’t go be governors. I guess they can join the pool of candidates running for president,” the source told The Hill.
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