Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced this morning he will not jump into the West Virginia gubernatorial race.

The announcement comes just after a poll showed Manchin leading Republican Gov. Jim Justice by ten points.

Manchin served as West Virginia governor from 2004 to 2010. He has represented the state in the senate since a special election when Robert Byrd passed away.

His decision may have stemmed from his approval ratings. He has a 49% job approval rating in a poll from West Virginia MetroNews. That number is up from 43% at this time last year.

From West Virginia MetroNews:

“I have always said that ‘public service is not self-service.’ So, when considering whether to run for governor, I couldn’t focus just on which job I enjoyed the most, but on where I could be the most effective for the Mountain State,” Manchin stated.

“Ultimately, I believe my role as U.S. Senator allows me to position our state for success for the rest of this century.”

Speaking recently on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” Manchin, D-W.Va., said he sometimes leans one way in the morning and another way later.

This slightly helps Republicans in two ways. First, they have an opportunity to keep the West Virginia governor seat.

West Virginians voted in then-Democrat candidate Justice in November 2016. He switched to the Republican Party in August 2017. He made the announcement at a rally for President Donald Trump.

His switch gave the Republicans 34 governors.

A poll from MetroNews four days ago showed Manchin up on Justice, 49% to 39% with 12% undecided.

Second, Manchin is a moderate Democrat. He often crosses the aisle to vote with his Republican colleagues.

In August 2018, FactCheck.org pointed out that Manchin “votes with Trump more often than against him.” At that time, Manchin voted with Trump 60.5% of the time.

That number has declined in the past year. A recent Trump score from FiveThirtyEight showed Manchin votes with Trump 54.7% of the time. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) comes in second at 54.5%.

However, it could harm the Republicans. The Democrats want to win back the Senate in 2020. If Trump wins, they need to flip four seats. If a Democrat wins, they only need three.

If Manchin left for the gubernatorial race the Republicans had a chance to flip his seat. He won in 2018 by only three points. Plus Trump remains popular in West Virginia. He enjoys an 18 net approval rating.

 
 
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