Joe Manchin fuels speculation around third-party 2024 run with No Labels event

Sen Joe Manchin is continuing to feed speculation about his political future by appearing at an event with No Labels as he weighs whether to make a third-party run for president.

The West Virginia Democrat will appear at the event on Monday night in New Hampshire, which holds one of the first presidential nominating contests and is a crucial swing state in the general election. No Labels, a centrist organisation, has pushed for a third-party candidate for president.

But some Democrats have feared that a No Labels-backed candidacy would siphon votes away from President Joe Biden and enable former president Donald Trump to win another term as president.

In May, the organisation said it opposed Mr Trump’s candidacy.

“We don’t believe there is any “equivalency” between President Biden and former President Trump, who is a uniquely divisive force in our politics and who sought to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the 2020 election,” the statement written by co-chairmen former senator Joe Lieberman and Benjamin Chavis said. “But we reject the notion that No Labels’ 2024 presidential insurance project would inevitably help former President Trump’s electoral prospects if he were the Republican nominee.”

Mr Manchin, a conservative Democrat, has not yet indicated whether he would stage a third-party run for president or seek another term in the Senate. Were he to run in 2024, he would be seeking another term with a Republican at the top of the presidential ticket. In 2020, Mr Trump won every county in West Virginia.

Throughout the first two years of Mr Biden’s presidency when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, Mr Manchin served as the swing vote in a 50-50 Senate. His opposition to Build Back Better, Democrats’ proposed social spending bill, ultimately killed the legislation.

Last year, he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer resurrected talks that led to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. But since then, Mr Manchin has criticised the Biden administration’s implementation of the law.

West Virginia Gov Jim Justice, a former friend of Mr Manchin, announced his candidacy to challenge the incumbent. He is heavily favoured to face Mr Manchin, himself a former governor, in the general election.

Mr Manchin has said he will decide his political future by the end of the year. Despite his indecision, he raised $424,485.52 in the most recent fundraising quarter from March to July and he has more than $10.7m in cash on hand.

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