Earlier this spring, speculation was mounting that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin would be leaving the Senate to run for his former job as governor of West Virginia.
Polls showed Manchin to be a heavy favorite, were he to become a candidate in 2016. An April 2015 survey, for example, showed Manchin with a 66 percent approval rating in the state and a 30-point lead over state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the leading GOP candidate.
But at the end of April, Manchin made a surprise announcement on Face the Nation: “I’m going to stay and I will run for reelection,” he said. “I know that the Senate is not working the way it was intended to and the way it’s supposed to. But I’m not going to stop fighting to make it work.”
Since coming to the Senate in 2010, Manchin has worked hard to cultivate a reputation for bipartisanship, including a high-profile effort with Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey to expand background checks on gun sales. National Journal’s 2014 vote ratings put him squarely in the center ideologically, ranking him the 54th most liberal senator and the 46th most conservative.
“A party line vote doesn’t mean anything to me,” Manchin says. “If I can’t go home and explain it, I won’t vote for it. And a lot of this stuff doesn’t make sense.”