WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Monday that he has no intention of leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent after fellow centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) announced last week that she would no longer identify as a Democrat.
Manchin, however, declined to rule out changing his party affiliation at some point in the future.
“I’ll look at all of these things. I’ve always looked all these things but I have no intention of doing anything right now,” he told reporters Monday.
“Whether I do something later, I can’t tell you what the future’s going to bring. I can only tell you where I am and my mindset” now, he said.
Manchin, who is up for reelection in 2024, added, “I want to work with Kyrsten everyday, the same as I have before.”
He later said “I tremendously respect her decision and wish her the best.”
Manchin teamed up with Sinema to defeat an effort by Democratic colleagues to weaken the Senate’s filibuster rule.
He has not yet made a decision about running for fourth term in a state that former President Trump won with 68.6 percent of the vote.
Manchin flirted with leaving the Democratic Party and identifying as an independent during the heated intraparty debate over President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda last year.
He threatened in October of last year to switch his affiliation to independent if fellow Senate Democrats weren’t happy with his policy positions.
“I said, me being a moderate centrist Democrat, if that causes you a problem, let me know and I’d switch to be an independent. But I’d still be caucusing with Democrats,” he said at the time, characterizing his tense discussions with Democratic colleagues during negotiations over Biden’s climate change and tax reform agenda.