Sen. Joe Manchin III said Monday he has no plans to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and change his party affiliation from Democratic to Independent, despite the moderate West Virginia clashing frequently at his party.
However, Mr. Manchin did not completely close the door. He said his departure from the Democrats was not out of the realm of possibility.
“I’m going to look at all these things. I’ve always watched all of these things, but I have no intention of doing anything right now,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Whether I do something later, I can’t tell you what the future holds.”
Ms. Sinema’s abrupt change infuriated many Democrats. His announcement last week came shortly after the party’s strong midterm performance in which they won a Senate seat to extend their majority to 51 seats. Democrats will still hold the majority, although it is not yet clear whether Ms Sinema will caucus with Democrats despite maintaining her assignments on the committee.
The reshuffle sparked new questions about whether Mr Manchin was considering a similar move. He and Ms Sinema are eligible for re-election in 2024. Ms Sinema would have faced a main challenge from the left. Mr Manchin faces a tough general election race against a Republican.
Mr Manchin said he “respects” Ms Sinema’s decision and stressed that he too does not fit the typical mold of a “Democrat from Washington”.
“I am not a Democrat from Washington. I don’t know what else to tell you,” Mr. Manchin said. “And if a Washington independent is – we’ll see what happens there. We’ll have to look. People are signing up for an independent affiliation more than any other party affiliation. They’re fed up and fed up .