Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) says he has no plans to leave the Democratic Party, but he isn’t ruling out the possibility either.
A journalist asked the senator on Monday if he might become an independent like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a move that could complicate the grip Democrats have on the upper chamber next term.
“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,” Manchin told reporters, according to The Hill.
“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 added.
Sinema revealed on Friday that she was changing her party affiliation. She made the announcement after Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) won his special election, giving the Democrats and the independents who caucus with them a slim 51-member majority in the Senate.
“I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington,” she wrote in a guest column for the Arizona Republic.
Both Manchin and Sinema are up for reelection in 2024. The pair often garner headlines when breaking with the majority of Democratic and independent senators on significant issues, but they generally vote in line with President Joe Biden, a tally from FiveThirtyEight shows.
Manchin voiced support for Sinema, saying he wants to continue working with her. “I tremendously respect her decision and wish her the best,” he also said of Sinema.
Last year, after denying he was leaving the Democratic Party, Manchin said he would become an independent, but still caucus with the Democrats if he turned into an “embarrassment” to his Democratic colleagues.