WASHINGTON (CN) – West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin will not run for governor, his office announced on Tuesday.
The top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Manchin was seen as a possible challenger to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a former Democrat turned Trump supporter.
In a statement Tuesday, Manchin said while he enjoyed his time as the state’s governor from from 2005 to 2010, he believes the Senate will give him the best opportunity to advance West Virginia’s interests.
“Ultimately, I believe my role as U.S. senator allows me to position our state for success for the rest of this century,” Manchin said.
Manchin is a moderate Democrat in a state that voted for President Donald Trump by a 42-point margin in 2016. Re-elected to his Senate office in 2018 with 49.6% of the vote, Manchin has sided with Trump’s position on votes in the Senate 54.7% of the time during the Trump administration, according to FiveThirtyEight.
One area in which Manchin has notably bucked his party is votes on Trump’s judicial nominees. He was the only Democrat who voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh in October and was one of just three Democrats who voted for Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017. Neither of the other two Democrats who voted for Gorsuch alongside Manchin still serves in the Senate.
On lower court nominations, Manchin has more often than not crossed the aisle to support Trump’s choices, though he has sided with Democrats on some of the more controversial nominees to federal appellate courts.
Manchin was also a key figure early in the Trump administration when Republicans held a narrow margin in the Senate. If Democrats joined together and voted against Trump’s policy priorities, Republicans could afford few defections to pass legislation, often making Manchin a swing vote of sorts.
Manchin voted against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017. With Democrats holding firm in their opposition to the repeal proposals, the measures ultimately fell with three Republican defections.
Manchin is not up for another Senate race until 2024.