Select Page

Manchin is the monkey wrench in the political gears

Manchin is the monkey wrench in the political gears

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has been described as a maverick Democrat senator.  He is certainly the least progressive – if not the most conservative – of Senate Democrats.  He and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema stopped President Biden from completely fulfilling his big spending agenda.

Manchin has been a popular figure in West Virginia for many years – holding the Senate seat for Democrats in a very red Republican state.  But that was coming to an end.  Most political observers rated Manchin’s chances of reelection in 2024 as near zero.

Manchin’s decision to not run for reelection all but assures the West Virginia seat will flip to the GOP – and greatly enhances Republican chances of taking control of the Senate.  They would only have to pick up one more seat – and there at least half dozen highly vulnerable Democrat senators up for reelection.

While the likely loss of the West Virginia senate seat is a significant blow to the Democratic Party, there is a much more ominous cloud on the political horizon in terms of Manchin.

For several months there has been curiosity about Manchin’s future plans.  Would he take on Biden in the Democrat primaries?  Would he run as an independent or third-party candidate.  Manchin added fuel to that speculation by attending a No Labels Party (NLP) event in New Hampshire.

NLP is a group of unaligned fat cats and political operatives exploring the possibility of challenging the two major party candidates.  While third-party efforts have been unsuccessful in the past, NLP believes that voter dislike for both Biden and Trump provide a unique opportunity.

Perhaps the most important part of Manchin’s withdrawal from the senate race was his plans for the future. They were not specific but fraught with meaning.  He said he planned to remain active in politics – and would be travelling the country to see if there was interest in middle-of-the-road politics.  What Manchin is doing looks and sounds like an exploratory campaign for a presidential bid.

Trump is fighting off a number of challengers within the Republican Party.  Biden has a couple of challengers in the Democrat primaries — Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips and spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson being the most prominent.  He also has three notable liberal Democrats mounting third-party bids.  They include Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. – a bit of a gadfly candidate who is remarkably pulling down 20-plus percent of the vote.  Black activist Cornel West, who will pull away some of Biden’s Black vote – which is already shrinking.  And perennial leftwing candidate Jill Stein.

They all pose a threat to Biden, but not as much as Manchin.  If Manchin jumps in, he will be the big political monkey wrench grinding the teeth off of Biden’s political machine.

If Manchin becomes an independent or NLP candidate, he will not likely win the presidency.  Like the other outliers, he will not be on the ballot in all the states – meaning he will fall short of the prerequisite 270 electoral votes to become President.  The fear on the left is that Manchin’s candidacy would be the coup de grace to Biden’s dream of a second term, however.

The two potential results of a Manchin campaign would be the election of Trump – if he is the GOP standard bearer – or (and this is the scary one) no one – neither Biden nor Trump –secures 270 electoral votes.  That could happen if Manchin or one of the others win electors in a couple of states.  While he could not get on the ballot in all states, he could pick up electors in half a dozen purple states.  So could Kennedy – especially states that apportion the electors as opposed to winner-take-all states.

According to the Constitution, when the Electoral College cannot come up with a winner, the decision passes on to the United States House of Representative.  Each state gets one vote in that process.  There are more Democrat voters in America, but they are concentrated in the big states, such as New York and California.  No matter the size of the population, states only get one vote in electing a President if the responsibility falls onto the House.

Republicans have more states represented in Congress – albeit smaller states.  So even if Democrats were to win control of the House in 2024, Republicans would still have a clear advantage in picking the 47th President.

That means that Trump COULD lose the popular vote … lose the electoral vote … and still become President of the United States — legitimately.  While that is not likely, it is more possible today than it ever was – and if Manchin enters the fray, he could be the weight that tips the political scales in that direction.

When pointing out that in the past independent and third-party candidacies fail miserably, we should keep in mind that never in the past have the two likely candidates of the two major parties been so unpopular with so many voters on both sides.

The only thing that can be said at this point is stay tuned.  It will be very interesting.

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. frank stetson

    I thought RFK JR was the cog in the wheels.

    Or Harris was the cog…

    How many cogs can we have?

    “While the likely loss of the West Virginia senate seat is a significant blow to the Democratic Party” Yeah, sure, like we weren’t prepared since 2022 that Governor Justice, who is term limited, would run for Machin’s seat and is much more popular than Manchin in WV.

    Madam, I doth thinketh you protesteth too mucheth.

    • Dan tyree

      Harris won’t be a problem. Even stupid democrats won’t nominate her

    • Tom

      It definitely sounds “cogfull” or as the English would say, “all cocked up matie” in the House of Dem. I hope he does run. Its about time we get more choices than the two blumin onions we have now! Hell Frank, I would vote for you if you ran! I think your slogan should be, “Why be just a ball cap when you can have a Stetson!”

  2. Bob Cowan

    Thanks for this. If a state has an even split (ie one dem and one rep) how is its vote counted? Half and half? Just curious…thanks again..Bob Cowan AKA Papas Fritas

    • Tom

      Good question. I would guess the spit would rely on which party holds the state house legislature. Or it could be the Governor’s appointment. Maybe Larry can answer this one.

  3. Susan F. Bannon

    While I like Joe Manchin, he’s too trusting of others. You’ve got to make sure, when you make a deal, that the other must follow through w/the agreement. He works on the premise that others are as honorable as he is. Laws and business don’t work that way. It should but it doesn’t !!!! He’s too old to be so trusting !!!!

  4. JoeyP

    I think all the Democrats cogs are STRIPPED . . . We The People are ON to them

  5. frank stetson

    JoeyP —

    that’s what they said in Ohio.

    that’s what they said in Virginia.

    Keep the faith buddy.

    • Tom

      Yeah, lil JoeyP does not realize the “fix is in”

  6. Tom

    Larry, I agree with the premise of your article that Joe Manchin does pose a problem for the Dems. I just do not know how big a problem. And I think he can pose a big problem for Trump as well. I think he will get a significant portion of the vote, maybe as high as 25% because of the Dems and GOPs that became Independents after 2020 and 2022, as well as those of us long term Independents that would vote for him. Isn’t there a procedure where another can concede and assign their electoral votes to Manchin?

    I hope Joe does run.

  7. Darren

    I do not agree with BOTH parties being so unpopular with their bases.
    Biden is a Moron or the people pulling his strings are.
    Never have so many did so much incorrect butt kissing in the history of this country.

    Trump on the other hand still has 70 million loyal followers behind him.
    Watch over the next 9 Months as the Democrat’s slow down the influx at the border.
    Watch how they will start to back track on WOKE, GENDER, AND ALL THE CRAP THAT HAS ROUINED THIS COUNTRY.