Manchin reacts to Republican challenger: ‘I always wish everyone the best’

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is wishing his potential Republican challengers the best even as he says he hasn’t made up his mind about whether he will seek re-election to the Senate in 2024.

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Manchin invited voters to get involved in the 2024 Senate race and predicted there will be a “very exciting, crowded primary on the Republican side” after Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., became the first Republican to toss his hat in the ring.

“We’ll just see how it goes. But, you know, I always wish everyone the best,” Manchin said.

Manchin, a moderate Democrat representing West Virginia – a state former President Trump won by 39 points in 2020 – is viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbent lawmakers in 2024. He won re-election to his second full term in 2018 by a margin of only 3% and next time may face a primary challenge from his left.

He has repeatedly frustrated progressives by acting as a swing vote in the Senate, upsetting major pieces of President Biden’s agenda by opposing certain spending and refusing to vote with other Democrats to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold to pass bills in the Senate.

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Sen. Joe Manchin speaks during a news conference on Sept. 20, 2022, at the Capitol.
(AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Manchin drew national attention when he announced his opposition to Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which needed his vote to pass in the Senate. He continued negotiations with the White House as the bill evolved into the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed thanks to his vote.

Speaking to Fox News, Manchin said he hasn’t made up his mind about running for re-election in 2024.

“I haven’t made a complete decision as of yet,” Manchin said. “But the bottom line is, I’ve always intended whenever I make a decision, it’s never been based on who’s running against me or who is likely to run against me, or who announces they’re against me. I’ve never made a decision based on any opposition. I’ve always made a decision based on how my health and my well-being and my family, and how I could be effective for the people of West Virginia.”

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Rep. Alex Mooney on Tuesday announced he will run for Senate in 2024 in a bid to unseat Sen. Joe Manchin.
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Manchin’s status as a moderate has sometimes led Republicans to court him to switch his party affiliation. He has so far resisted those efforts, but on Tuesday he did not rule out running as a Republican in 2024.

“Well, I mean, I would run as a West Virginian. I’ve always been a West Virginian. I don’t think anyone’s ever identified me [as], you know, even though I have a D by my name, I’ve never, ever identified as being a partisan person,” Manchin said. “I think it’s all about how do we unify the country? How do we bring people back together? And we saw this was a very unusual election here in 2022. We were all surprised, very much so. So the toxic atmosphere that people [are] thinking or think that works, I don’t think so anymore.”

Sen. Joe Manchin during a community listening session at Piketon High School in Piketon, Ohio, Oct. 20, 2022.
(Gaelen Morse/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Pressed on whether he would consider running as a Republican, he said “those things have never entered into my mind.

“How can I help defend and protect the Constitution, the United States of America? That’s really been my focus. Always has been.”

Fox News’ Patrick Hauf contributed to this report.