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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) confirmed Thursday that he is "seriously" contemplating leaving the Democratic Party.
Amid rumors that Manchin may run as a third-party presidential candidate in 2024 — a possibility he has refused to rule out — West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval asked Manchin to clarify his plans and whether he will leave the Democratic Party.
Manchin explained that he cannot "accept either party" in their current state and confirmed he is considering becoming an independent.
"I'm thinking seriously. For me, I have to have peace of mind, basically," Manchin said. "The brand has become so bad — the 'D' brand and 'R' brand. 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."
"You've heard me say a million times: I'm not a Washington Democrat," he added.
Manchin, however, said he is not prepared to make any announcement about his future political affiliation.
"I've been thinking about that for quite some time. 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," he said. "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."
The journey from committed Democrat to possible independent has taken several years for Manchin.
In November 2010, a spokesperson for Manchin described him as a "lifelong Democrat." More than 10 years later in April 2021, Manchin said he had no plans to leave his party. But that began to change in late 2021 when Manchin started bucking the Democratic agenda.
Although he declared in April 2022 that he is a "West Virginia Democrat," Manchin began seriously flirting with independence last December when his colleague, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), officially left the Democratic Party and became an independent (although she caucuses with Democrats).
Manchin says his motivation for possible independence is his own moderate politics that fits neither political party as they currently stand. But Manchin is also up for re-election next year — and his chances at winning are grim at best.
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Chris Enloe is a staff writer for Blaze News