(The Hill) – Former President Trump took credit for Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) retirement in a post on his Truth Social platform on Thursday.
“Because I Endorsed Big Jim Justice of West Virginia for the U.S. Senate, and he has taken a commanding lead, Democrat Joe Manchin has decided not to seek re-election. Looking good for Big Jim!” Trump wrote.
Earlier on Thursday, the West Virginia Democrat announced that he would not be seeking reelection – capping off months of speculation over where he would run or not. He faced two GOP challengers: Gov. Jim Justice, who has the backing of the Senate GOP campaign arm, and Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), who Trump endorsed in his House race last year.
“After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia. I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate,” Manchin said in a statement.
“But what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together,” he added.
Shortly after Manchin’s announcement, the nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report changed its ratings of Manchin’s seat from “toss up” to “solid Republican” as Manchin was considered Democrats’ best shot at holding the seat.
The decision also came amid the backdrop of polling indicating that Manchin would have faced an uphill climb. An Emerson College Polling survey released last month found Justice leading Manchin 41 percent to 28 percent.
Manchin fared better in a hypothetical matchup against Mooney, with the West Virginia Democrat at 37 percent and Mooney at 31 percent.