Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) is taking heat for indicating that he may be open to launching a third-party presidential bid in 2024.
“I’ve never been in any race I’ve ever spoiled. I’ve been in races to win. And if I get in the race, I’m going to win,” Manchin said at a No Labels event in New Hampshire. “With that being said, I haven’t made a decision.”
No Labels is a centrist party that signaled on Monday it would offer a third-party candidate if it becomes clear that the choice will be between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.
In a CNN interview Monday, Manchin reiterated that he hasn’t “made any decision, nor will I make a decision until the end of the year.”
Manchin’s decision to seemingly leave the door open to a prospective 2024 bid quickly drew backlash from Democrats, with some arguing introducing another third-party candidate could derail Democrats’ hopes of keeping the White House.
“[No Labels] is not a serious effort. But they do have potentially a very important role to play in swinging the election in battleground states,“ former Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) told POLITICO outside No Labels’ New Hampshire event.
Downey added that “if Trump is the candidate, Joe Biden will win, and the only way that he will not win is if we have third-party candidates on different ballots in different states.”
Former West Virginia state senator Richard Ojeda II theorized that “Joe Manchin will sabotage Pres Biden because he didnt get his way and become the Energy Secretary.”
Legal scholar Laurence Tribe rebuked all third-party candidates, including Manchin, in a tweet Tuesday “as the biggest threat to our survival as a free people who govern ourselves.”
Third-party voters faced a similar criticism from some supporters of Hillary Clinton in 2016, who claimed they cost her the election. (While more than 7.8 million people did vote for someone other than Clinton or Trump, the assertion that candidates like libertarian Gary Johnson affected the outcome has “several snags,” according to the Guardian.)
But the criticism that Manchin would sabotage Biden, while speculative, stems from long-time concerns over Manchin’s obstinance to Biden’s agenda, from holding up his infrastructure bill and climate change legislation and preventing the nomination of Gigi Sohn to the FCC.