Manchin Begs Schumer to Boost Potential Reelection Bid Amid Flailing Poll Numbers

Two-term senator trails GOP governor Jim Justice in polls as he contemplates political future

Sen. Joe Manchin / Getty Images
August 7, 2023

West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin is begging Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to flood his state with campaign spending as he stares down a difficult reelection bid in 2024, according to a new report.

Manchin "wants Schumer to spend money in his state to help prop up his poll numbers before he decides whether he'll run," the Washington Post reported Friday. Manchin, who is considered a top GOP target, is up for reelection next year but has yet to commit to a run, instead flirting with a third-party presidential bid against President Joe Biden. As a result, Manchin "doesn't want to spark speculation that he's running for reelection by making an ad buy to boost his image" and would rather rely on Schumer to spend in West Virginia on his behalf, according to the Post.

Manchin's request to Schumer comes as the red-state Democrat battles abysmal approval ratings. Just 33 percent of West Virginians approve of Manchin, compared with 59 percent who disapprove, according to an East Carolina University poll published in May. The poll also found that Manchin trails Republican governor Jim Justice, who in April announced his bid to take down Manchin, by a whopping 22 points in a hypothetical matchup. Unlike Manchin, Justice enjoys high approval ratings—57 percent of West Virginians approve of the governor, compared with 29 percent who disapprove.

For now, Schumer does not appear to be willing to spend on Manchin's behalf in West Virginia. Schumer "doesn't want to spend money before Manchin commits" to running for reelection and is "irked" that Manchin is considering a presidential bid, the Post reported. Should both Manchin and Schumer decline to flood West Virginia with campaign cash, Manchin's poor poll numbers are more likely to stick, making a potential campaign against Justice an increasingly difficult battle.

Manchin's campaign did not return a request for comment.

In addition to Schumer's frustration with Manchin's presidential aspirations, the majority leader is reportedly unhappy with Manchin's recent criticisms of the Inflation Reduction Act,  the Democrats' flagship climate change bill. Manchin last year emerged as the bill's "chief architect," and he praised the legislation just months ago as "the most transformative bill that we've ever had in the United States, in Congress."

But as Manchin prepares for a potential reelection campaign in a state that twice voted overwhelmingly for former president Donald Trump, he's worked to distance himself from the act. The legislation calls for hundreds of billions of dollars in green energy spending and is thus unpopular among coal-reliant West Virginians. Manchin in April said he would go as far as to "vote to repeal [his] own bill," citing President Joe Biden's efforts to "liberalize" the legislation.

Manchin's Inflation Reduction Act attacks have "become a growing source of tension" between Manchin and Schumer, according to the Post. Biden, Schumer, and other liberal lawmakers plan to tout the legislation ahead of its one-year anniversary next week, but Manchin has not committed to attending.

Should Manchin decide to run ads in West Virginia, he has $10.8 million in his campaign account to do so. But if the Democrat waits to spend until he formally announces his reelection bid, it could be too late—Manchin in March said he would make his "political decision in December, whatever it may be."