Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat, has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2024.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat of West Virginia, announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election next year, a highly anticipated decision that could change the battle for control of the Senate in 2024.

“After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia. I have made one of the hardest decisions of my life, and I have decided that I will not run for re-election to the United States Senate, but I will travel the country. “I will talk to see if there is interest in building a movement to mobilize the middle class and bring Americans together,” Manchin said in a statement. Video report.

“To the West Virginians who put their trust in me and fought side by side to improve our state – it has been the honor of my life to serve you. Thank you,” he said.

The decision by Manchin, a former governor who was elected to the Senate in a 2010 special election, was an earthquake in the battle for the Senate majority. That’s reassuring for Republicans in the ruby-red state of West Virginia, where Manchin has defied political gravity for years by keeping the seat in his party’s hands. Donald Trump won the state by 39 points in 2020.

Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said in a scathing statement: “We like our odds in West Virginia.”

Both Governor Jim Justice and Representative Alex Mooney are already running for the Republican nomination.

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“Senator Joe Manchin and I have always disagreed on policy and politics, but we are both lifelong West Virginians who love this state beyond belief, and I respect and thank him for his years of public service,” Judge said.

Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., on February 9, 2022 at the Capitol.Graeme Sloan / Sipa USA via AP File

Democrats have no viable alternative to Manchin in the state.

David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, expressed confidence that the party would retain control of the Senate.

“Democrats have many ways to protect and strengthen our Senate majority and are in a strong position to achieve this goal,” he said. “In addition to protecting our battle-tested incumbents, we’ve already expanded the battleground map to Texas and Florida. , strong Democratic candidates are unseating unpopular Republican incumbents and DSCC is making investments to build on the success of our campaigns.

Democrats have had a love-hate relationship with Manchin, who has often been a thorn in President Joe Biden’s priorities and forced him to scale back his ambitious domestic agenda.

But Manchin was also the linchpin of a 50-50 Democratic Senate in 2021 and 2022. Without his seat, Republican Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. They will run that chamber, not Democratic Party leader Chuck Schumer. Manchin also cast critical votes to implement many of Biden’s policy successes, including the American Recovery Plan, the Anti-Inflation Act, and several new federal judges.

As for Manchin’s future, a source with direct knowledge of his plans told NBC News: “No specific decisions have been made other than finding a way to change the political conversation in the country.”

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Asked if Manchin was considering a run for president — including as a Democratic, independent or no-label candidate — the source replied, “Nothing is off the table.”

This is a growing story. Check back for updates.

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