This is very bad news for the left.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D) officially announced on Thursday that he will not seek re-election as a senator in 2025, confirming suspicions held by his colleagues for several months. This decision has placed Democrats in a challenging position in their quest to retain control of the Senate in the upcoming election.
According to The Hill, the news of Manchin’s impending departure from the Senate hit Senate Democrats hard, dampening the enthusiasm they had following their recent victories in key state races in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, known for his efforts to persuade incumbents to run for re-election in tough races, will now face the daunting task of winning seven competitive races in states like Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin. These states typically lean Republican or are swing states, making it a steep climb for the Democrats to maintain their Senate majority.
Although Manchin’s retirement wasn’t entirely unexpected, it occurred sooner than many had anticipated. He had previously indicated he wouldn’t make a decision until the end of the year and had even suggested that he was still deliberating when he spoke to reporters as he left the Capitol on Thursday.
Manchin’s decision highlights the challenges facing vulnerable Democratic incumbents, as President Biden’s low job approval rating and lack of enthusiasm within the party for a second Biden term pose significant obstacles.
A recent New York Times/Siena College poll indicated that former President Trump was leading Biden in several crucial states. Manchin, who had confidently stated in April that he could “win any race I enter,” had encountered mounting challenges in securing re-election in West Virginia against the popular Republican Governor Jim Justice, the likely Senate GOP nominee.
The Democratic Party lacks clear opportunities to flip Republican-held seats, as prognosticators favor the re-election of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents, Senators Ted Cruz and Rick Scott.
One Democratic senator, speaking anonymously, acknowledged the formidable task ahead for Democrats in defending their Senate majority. Montana, Ohio, and Arizona were identified as the most challenging Democratic-controlled seats to maintain, while Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, all represented by Democrats, were not expected to be easy victories.
The senator emphasized the importance of the Senate as a safeguard, especially if President Biden wins re-election and Republicans gain control of the Senate, which would impact judicial appointments and executive nominees.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party in December to become an independent, remains part of the Senate Democrats’ 51-seat majority, even though she no longer attends caucus meetings. She has not yet confirmed whether she will run for re-election, facing a likely three-way general election battle against Republican Kari Lake and progressive Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego.
Senator Tim Kaine and other Democrats expressed their initial surprise at Manchin’s decision and the increased difficulty of keeping his seat in Democratic hands without him running for re-election. However, they remain determined to maintain their Senate majority.
Kaine pointed to the 2022 midterm elections as a precedent where political handicappers predicted Democratic losses in the Senate, but the party expanded its majority to 51 seats. He also cited the success of Democrats in the 2023 Virginia state legislative races.
Senator Jeff Merkley emphasized the importance of a party that cares about various issues and expressed disappointment over Manchin’s retirement, which he acknowledged would make the battle for Senate control tougher.
Manchin’s departure also puts more pressure on other vulnerable incumbents, such as Senators Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown, and could make the race in Montana more expensive.
Despite these challenges, Democratic strategists believe they have a realistic chance of beating Cruz and Scott in Texas and Florida, as both Republican senators narrowly won their elections in 2018.
While Republicans celebrated Manchin’s retirement and saw it as a step closer to regaining the Senate majority, Senate Democrats maintained that they were still in a strong position and had multiple pathways to protect and strengthen their Senate majority.
In summary, Manchin’s decision not to seek re-election in 2025 has presented a significant challenge for Democrats in their efforts to retain control of the Senate, but they remain determined to compete in key races across the country.