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Is Manchin Serious About a Third Party Run?

Is Manchin Serious About a Third Party Run?

West Virginia’s Democrat Senator Joe Manchin is again giving Democrats apoplexy – especially folks in the White House.  With only a two-vote margin in the Senate – and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema looking at an independent run in 2024 – Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrat leaders can only grin sheepishly as Manchin strikes is own political path. Manchin is the maverick within a herd of sheep.  Democrats may not like his failure to toe the party line, but they cannot afford to speak ill of him.

Manchin acts peculiarly because he is a peculiarity.  He is a Democrat who has continued to win in a state that is overwhelmingly Republican.  It is also one of the most Trump states in America.  If Trump is the GOP standard bearer, West Virginia will be a safe state for the former President – and conversely, not so safe for Manchin despite his past election victories.

If Manchin runs or not, his seat will be one of the most likely pick-ups for the Republicans.  Most political observers do not believe that he can win reelection.  So, what does Manchin do?

He could dig in his heels and go for reelection despite the long odds.  He could switch parties, but that would not guarantee him the Republican nomination.  He could retire from politics – although that does not seem to be under serious consideration at this moment.  Or… he could run under a third-party label — or no label.  And there just happens to be a group with that name actively seeking candidates to challenge the two major parties.

The political acrimony between Republicans and Democrats that has infected the partisan political process – and the overall unpopularity of the current leading candidates for President — has led to the rise of a well-funded outrigger group called “No Labels.”  That is a bit of a misnomer since the group is trying to recruit a Republican and a Democrat to run as a bipartisan team.

Pouring more fuel on the speculation of a third-party run, Manchin appeared as a major speaker at a forum sponsored by No Labels in New Hampshire – an important primary state.  He appeared alongside Utah’s former Republican Governor Jon Huntsman.  Both men were coy about their own intentions but did not discount the possibility of running on the No Labels label.

No Labels has promised to present a “common sense” platform in opposition to what its leaders claim to be the excessive partisan political pugilism between Republicans and Democrats – especially between the Biden and Trump camps.  

In explaining his appearance at the No Labels forum, Manchin said that his it had nothing to do with a third-party run for President.  He simply wants to promote “dialogue for common sense.”  Does that mean Manchin was not interested in being a third-party candidate?  To that point, he said that he has “never ruled out anything or ruled in anything.”  When asked further if his candidacy would hurt Biden’s chances for reelection, Manchin punted.

With only a one-vote margin in the previous session of the Senate, Marchin was able to make his more moderate views the thumb on Biden’s legislative scale.  He forced Biden to scale back his spending proposals.

Manchin’s influence has diminished in the current Senate session because Republican control of the House.  That means that all of Biden’s grandiose legislative proposals are dead on arrival.  Manchin is no longer needed as blocker.  All Biden can do in these times is jawbone his reckless spending platform of something for everyone with little hope of getting anything passed.

That still leaves Manchin enormous political power and influence in terms of the 2024 presidential election, however.  Manchin must know that if he mounts a third-party bid, Biden’s chance for reelection drops close to zero – even against the much-dreaded Donald Trump. That is true even in the fact of recent polls suggesting that a third-party candidacy will actually hurt Trump more than Biden.  (I will go deeper into those weeds in a future commentary).

Former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney has hinted at a run for President with the sole goal of preventing Trump from returning to the Oval Office.   If she ran in the GOP primaries, she would get crushed.  And if she ran as an independent or the No Labels candidate, she is still more likely to take anti-Trump Republicans away from Biden.

According to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, the ONLY objective of No Labels is to defeat Trump.  If that were true – and Scarborough’s analyses are more often wrong than right – they would not be recruiting Manchin.  In fact, they would not put up a candidate at all.

The more interesting question is why would Manchin want to help Trump or any GOP presidential candidate defeat Joe Biden — if the old guy sustains as the likely Democrat candidate?

One possible reason is that Manchin does not believe in the Democrats radical left policies.  Personalities notwithstanding, Manchin’s political philosophy is closer to the GOP than the current Democratic Party on almost every issue.

Or … Manchin may be dangling out a third-party bid to get a few concessions – such as no completion in his primary election in West Virginia.  Congressional Democrats on the far left have already suggested an opponent on Manchin’s left.  He could be bargaining for financial support from Democrat political funds – such as the Democrat Senate Campaign Committee or the Democratic National Committee.

Manchin will be one of the most interesting political sideshows in the days ahead.  The only thing that seems clear at this point is that Manchin will keep open the possibility of a third-party run – and will have team Biden on edge for the next several months.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Mary

    Manchin should run and so should Tulsi Gabbard

  2. frank stetson

    Manchin is between a rock and another rock….He’s like a wishy-washy version of Pence unable to firmly pick a side when the going gets tough. He will have troubles taking his State, how is he going to take the country? Can’t figure out how to move WV forward out of the coal age either. He’s got enough money to run, but he can’t win the Presidency, can’t force himself to the Vice Presidency. He can’t beat Biden and he can’t beat Trump and he’s smart enough to know it. He has the bucks; over $10M in the war chest which is a bit more than it took for him to win WV for this Senate term. But he won by 3% so he will need every buck and more. Ex-WV-Gov Justice with a really high popularity rating in WV creams Manchin in the polls and has hinted he is running. Manchin has stated he will only run if he can win (WV that is). My guess is he’s sitting back to see if any lucky dice tumble his way and helps him make his choice which, right now, looks grim even if he has been able to garner some bucks. Probably sticking pins in three different voodoo dolls to see if he can curse one of these three old men. Could be his best defense. I don’t think he will try for the Presidency unless he’s looking for the campaign cash/experience, but probably will find the State is an even harder nut for him to crack — which does not help him in getting the Presidency either. Not good when you can’t win your own State.

  3. Dan tyree

    The coal age should be promoted in all coal producing regions