Sen. Joe Manchin Is ‘Leaving All His Options Open for 2016’

But, like everyone else, he isn’t saying much more.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
©2013 Richard A. Bloom
Emma Roller
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Emma Roller
April 17, 2014, 11:49 a.m.

Sen. Joe Manchin is the most con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crat in the Sen­ate. But he may not be plan­ning on stay­ing there too long.

Manchin, who served one full term as West Vir­gin­ia’s gov­ernor be­fore leav­ing for the Sen­ate in 2010, ap­pears to be eye­ing his former of­fice or an­oth­er of­fice for 2016 — two years be­fore his term as sen­at­or is up.

“Sen­at­or Manchin loved be­ing gov­ernor of West Vir­gin­ia, and has made no secret of his frus­tra­tion with the par­tis­an grid­lock and dys­func­tion of Wash­ing­ton,” a Manchin spokes­man told The Char­le­ston Gaz­ette on Thursday. “He is fully com­mit­ted to his job as sen­at­or and fights every day to im­prove the lives of the people he is honored to rep­res­ent.”

“Sen­at­or Manchin is leav­ing all his op­tions open for 2016, and will con­tin­ue to look for the best way to bring com­mon sense to Wash­ing­ton,” the spokes­man con­tin­ued.

Green­wire has also re­por­ted there are “ru­mors” of Manchin switch­ing parties, but a Manchin spokes­man threw cold wa­ter on that no­tion. “I have nev­er heard him men­tion that,” Jonath­an Kott, Manchin’s com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or, told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “And his pub­lic an­swers have been pretty defin­it­ive.”

If Manchin were to leave the Demo­crat­ic caucus for some reas­on, it would be in line with his non­par­tis­an philo­sophy. A life­time mem­ber of the Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation who’d en­joyed an “A” rat­ing from the guns-rights group for years, Manchin made head­lines (and en­emies) by com­ing out in sup­port of gun-con­trol re­forms after the shoot­ing at Sandy Hook Ele­ment­ary School in 2012.

Along with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Manchin in­tro­duced a bill that would have re­quired back­ground checks on all com­mer­cial gun sales. Last April, the Manchin-Toomey amend­ment failed to ad­vance in the Sen­ate by six votes. But the two sen­at­ors have re­cently teamed up again to pro­mote a bill that would re­quire schools that re­ceive fed­er­al fund­ing to per­form back­ground checks on all their em­ploy­ees.

Since in­tro­du­cing the gun le­gis­la­tion, Manchin has fallen from the NRA’s good graces. In West Vir­gin­ia, the group spent $100,000 in ad­vert­ising against Manchin’s gun-con­trol pro­pos­als. He’s also at­trac­ted a more lit­er­al sort of en­emy. Last month, a West Vir­gin­ia man was ar­res­ted for mak­ing mul­tiple death threats against Manchin and his fam­ily.

Manchin’s come a long way from be­ing known as the can­did­ate who fam­ously shot a copy of the cap-and-trade bill in a cam­paign ad. Now, he might be tak­ing aim at lofti­er tar­gets.

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