Joe Manchin’s re-election plan comes as Democrats oppose his key vote

Manchin, 74, is acutely aware that his vote will reverberate for years along the campaign trail and across American society – with huge divisions for his party’s electoral chances, first term Biden and many voters support expanding the social safety net.

But his handling of the bill could also be a central part of his own story about running for re-election, a reason why even his close allies believe he has suffered. Criticism from the left for seeking to take the bill back, calls for it to be halted, and has yet to pledge support for it as party leaders try to have the bill completed by Christmas.

But just like Manchin campaigned as the only Democrat to support Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court in 2018 – when he took three points in deep red – his allies doubt he can do the same if he is the only Democrat to disrupt the multi-trillion agenda Biden’s overhaul of health care, education, housing, childcare and climate change policies and tax codes. Doing so, however, would lead to an enormous backlash from even his own core supporters, while dampening Biden’s re-election message in 2024.

For now, Manchin said he still plans to see if he can strike a deal with the President, who he considers a friend and an honest broker, even if he has pointed out fully quotes the bill for its many policies, its pricing amid inflationary pressures and the fact that it calls for temporary programs that he believes will eventually become permanent against the will his.

In an interview, Manchin denied that his re-election decision would affect his thinking about whether to support the Build Back Better plan, which could cost an estimated $2 trillion. Are not. But he made it clear that another race is entirely possible in the cards.

“I’m looking into it,” Manchin told CNN when asked about the rerun. “I don’t rule anything out.”

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, is seen on Capitol Hill in November.

Asked if that consideration would affect his views on the bill, Manchin said: “I’m always there for my constituents. I answer the people with whom I work: Westerners. Virginia.”

And he also indicated that his voters may not want the bill.

“There are challenges,” Manchin said of his election participants. “Let’s say it that way.”

His potential opponents are watching his position very closely.

“West Virginia is Donald Trump’s second-largest state in the nation,” said Representative Alex Mooney, a Republican. is considered a potential rival of Manchin in 2024. “And whenever Manchin does something conservative, like opposes Build Back Better, everyone supports it. If he does something more liberal, like Build Back Better is liberal, I don’t. think voters will support that.”

When asked if he could challenge Manchin, Mooney said, “I don’t do hypotheticals. I have to win on May 10,” referring to his GOP preliminary against a Republicans are sitting in the House of Representatives.

However, Manchin was prepared. He already has $5.3 million on hand in his campaign chest for 2024, though he says he won’t make a final decision until after the 2022 election next season. coming collection.

Asked if he believes he can be re-elected if he votes on the bill, Manchin said: “I never think about the law based on, ‘Am I re-elected or defeated because of me? vote for something?’ I vote for something because I can explain it or I can’t. It’s my kneeling test.”

Representative Alex Mooney, a Republican from West Virginia, is seen in 2020.

Manchin said he still doesn’t know if he can explain the bill to the people of West Virginia, as the bill is still being negotiated and drafted, despite the broad outlines – and many specifics – known for many months.

“Until you see the final draft, you don’t know what you’re going to do,” Manchin told CNN.

GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito, junior senator from West Virginia, with Manchin helped deliver Biden’s $1.2 infrastructure law, said her Democratic colleague’s voting records are “always under scrutiny.”

“It’s not popular,” Capito said of Biden’s social spending package. And, she added of Manchin: “I think a lot of the green energy problems that he’s obviously dealing with, are very harmful. I think it’s going to be very difficult for him, but he seems to have it. can rise to the challenge.”

West Virginia’s dramatic shift to the right

As a statewidely elected Democrat, Manchin is a rare person in a state where he has seen a rapid change from blue to red.

In 2008, West Virginia overwhelmingly re-elected Democrats: Manchin for governor, Jay Rockefeller for the Senate, Nick Rahall and Alan Mollohan for two of the state’s three House seats. Its other senator, the late Robert Byrd, was a Democrat during his last term, setting the record as the longest-serving member of the chamber.

Manchin was the only one still in office. After Trump’s 39-point victory over Biden, registered Republicans in the state eventually outnumbered Democrats, as their numbers continued to decline for a long time.

But Manchin is the unusual Democrat who can prevail when the national party falters, built in part by ripping it up and the city he has worked for since his first election to Senate. In a 2018 campaign ad, Manchin said, “Washington sucks;” in 2010, he cut an ad showing him firing the Democrats’ global warming bill with a rifle.

“Well, last time he won only three, and so I think anyone can get hurt,” Capito said when asked if Manchin is at stake in 2024. – Manchin has a great history as a great and well-liked campaigner. “

Indeed, back home in West Virginia, Manchin was known to valet the hourly court at a grocery store or a gas station — and speak to voters of all political circles.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Representative Alex Mooney in May.

But by 2024, the equation for Manchin may be different. And if he decides not to run, most believe there is hardly another chance a Democrat could keep the seat.

Former West Virginia Republican chairman Conrad Lucas says the Republican registration advantage will continue to grow into 2024, a year the president can push the GOP further.

“If Manchin runs, he’s going to have to be heavily infiltrated with the Republican party,” Lucas said.

While progressives are looking to see if anyone can take the position of senator, Manchin’s re-election will likely rely not only on traditional West Virginia Democrats but also Republicans know him well and are pleased that he has lowered the overall price of the Build Back Better bill by the trillions of dollars.

Manchin told senators he is skeptical Build Back Better can pass this year, as doubts are growing it will be completed by Christmas

“He’s kept our state’s values ​​close to his heart and to me the voice of reason in the US Senate Democratic caucus,” former State Senate chairman Bill Bill said. Cole, a Republican, said.

Whether Manchin runs for office or not, his seat will be the Republican Party’s top pick in 2024. Republicans hold all other offices across the state and are headed for the election. race.

“I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an elected official who hasn’t considered that at this point,” Lucas said.

But even if he ends up voting on the bill, Manchin will likely argue he helped lower the price of the card – initially at $3.5 trillion, while removing possible provisions. causing problems for him in his state, such as clean energy standards aimed at combating climate change but would affect coal companies in West Virginia. And he can campaign on childcare provisions, such as universal pre-K, which he has praised for making it into the bill.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said many in his party were grateful for Manchin. and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has held firm on certain claims of progressives so far.

“Well, all I can tell you is Sen. Sinema, likewise, has a pretty high favorite rating, even among Republicans, for removing some taxes. more serious,” Cornyn said. “I mean, they both look pretty popular.”

CNN’s Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.


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