Manchin Refuses to Identify as a Democrat in Television Interview

'I identify as an American,' the West Virginia senator told Fox News

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) / Getty Images
February 27, 2023

West Virginia senator Joe Manchin on Sunday refused to say whether he still identifies as a Democrat, a sign the self-described moderate is positioning himself for a reelection bid in 2024.

"I identify as an American," Manchin told Fox News when asked about his party affiliation. "I'm an American through and through."

He dodged a question about a potential reelection bid, saying he is concerned about how "we bring this country together."

"How do we make it work? How do we make Democrats, Republicans become Americans again, and not just party affiliates," Manchin said.

Manchin's reluctance to identify as a Democrat comes as the senator faces a potentially tough reelection battle in 2024. West Virginia voted for former president Donald Trump by a 39-point margin in 2020. Governor Jim Justice, a former Democrat turned Republican, is teasing a run for the Senate seat. He said last week his announcement will come "real soon" and has told reporters he is confident in his chances.

Justice's approval rating among West Virginia voters, 64 percent, is 24 points higher than Manchin's.

Manchin's comment also comes just months after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) left the Democratic Party, registering as an independent.

While Manchin has presented himself as a moderate, the senator faced criticism for providing a necessary vote to pass the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act, which primarily funds left-wing environmental initiatives.

Democrats face a tough 2024 Senate map, having to defend 23 seats to Republicans' 11. Democrats Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown face uphill fights in Montana and Ohio, which will likely go red in the presidential race.

Democrats also must defend seats in states that elected President Joe Biden by small margins: Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.