The Hill is reporting that Joe Manchin of West Virginia is fed up with nothing getting done in the Senate and is thinking seriously about leaving to run for Governor. Multiple sources indicate this is an ongoing frustration that peaked last month:
Manchin’s patience reached a breaking point shortly before the Memorial Day recess, when the Senate finally finished debating a disaster relief bill that many lawmakers thought should have passed weeks earlier.
A Democratic senator who requested anonymity recalled Manchin getting thoroughly fed up and threatening to retire before the end of the 116th Congress.
“He said, ‘I’m out of here.’ He was all pissed off and said, ‘I’m going to be out of here,’ ” the lawmaker said.
Manchin just won reelection to the Senate in 2018, so his term won’t be up until 2024, but if he decides to run for Governor of West Virginia in 2020 and wins, his Senate would eventually go back to the GOP, though how quickly would apparently depend on when he resigns from office:
If Manchin resigns his Senate seat following the certification of the election but before he takes the gubernatorial oath of office, then the current Republican governor, Jim Justice, will appoint his successor.
Should Manchin resign his Senate seat just before taking the oath of office, then he could appoint his own successor as long as he does so before the notice of resignation reaches Justice’s office.
Currently, Democrats need to pick up four seats to take control of the chamber (or three seats and the White House). But they are already going to have a hard time holding onto the Alabama seat held by Doug Jones. So if Manchin also leaves it becomes much more difficult for Democrats to take over the chamber.
Watching all of this closely is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer was seen talking with Manchin after his Memorial Day blow up. The Hill reports no one is sure what was said but you can bet it was some encouragement not to give in to frustration and let the party down. I suspect the real pitch is that if Dems can take the Senate and the White House in 2020 then things will really start to happen.
But what things? Is Joe Manchin really going to be on board with a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren administration? I don’t think so. Instead of his frustration at a Senate that gets nothing done (for Democrats) he may find himself in the awkward position he was in during the Kavanaugh confirmation, i.e. the moderate joining with the GOP and making a lot of people in his own party angry. Here’s hoping he decides to run for Governor instead.