Earlier in the term, when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the principal vote against advancing a broad-based health care and climate package in the Senate, he was a favorite Democratic senator of the Republican caucus. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly counseled Republicans to praise him, and at various points even said he'd welcome Manchin into the GOP if he chose to switch sides.
Then Manchin helped President Joe Biden pass his signature Inflation Reduction Act, securing hundreds of billions for the president's top priorities. And things changed. According to CNN, Republicans are already making plans on how to take him out when he stands for re-election in 2024 — already a tough proposition, as he represents the most Republican-favoring state of any Democratic senator.
"West Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Justice acknowledged in a local newspaper interview that he is considering a bid against Manchin," reported Chris Cillizza. "'I don’t really know what I’m going to do right yet,' Justice said. 'Maybe you’ll see me … you know … sticking around and running for national office. But right now, I don’t know.' Asked directly about the 2024 Senate race, Justice said: 'I guess it’s possible. Who knows?'"
"Justice isn’t the only Republican already circling Manchin. Last month, West Virginia Republican Rep. Alex Mooney ran an ad blasting Manchin for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act," said the report. "'Suddenly, Joe Manchin is backing Joe Biden’s liberal agenda,' the ad’s narrator said. 'Manchin is supporting legislation that would raise our taxes, tax our coal industry and devastate West Virginia communities.' Asked over the summer whether he was considering a challenge to Manchin, Mooney told CNN that it was 'an after-November decision,' which, you will rightly note, is not a 'no.'"
This also comes as Republicans work to sink Manchin's legislative priorities. GOP senators have increasingly come out against Manchin's permitting reform bill, an intended complement to the Inflation Reduction Act that would make building both renewable and fossil fuel energy projects easier, and introducing a competing bill of their own.
Former President Donald Trump, writing on his Truth Social media platform, had his own assessment about the situation: "When people ask, 'What happened to Joe Manchin, why did he go off the rails?' The answer is very simple — Mitch McConnell forced his hand by saying that Manchin was weak and ineffective and that he, McConnell, had him totally under control. Manchin couldn’t stand for that and turned strongly, not against the Republicans, but against McConnell, who he has always despised. The fact is, Joe Manchin should have been brought into the Republican Party long ago."