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Manchin will stay in Senate, won’t run for governor

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Manchin will stay in Senate, won’t run for governor
By David Gutman, The Charleston Gazette

Sen. Joe Manchin announced on Sunday that he will remain in the U.S. Senate and will run for re-election in 2018, not run for a third term as governor of West Virginia in 2016.

Manchin’s announcement ends more than a year of self-made speculation on his political future. The Democratic senator told the Gazette last April that he was frustrated with partisan gridlock in the Senate and was considering a run for governor.

In a prepared statement on Sunday, Manchin said his move to the Senate five years ago, following the death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, was more difficult than he expected.

“I believe that, after five years, we are beginning to make a difference,” Manchin said. “We are simply bringing a greater sense of bipartisanship and commitment to working together for the good of the American people. It is because of that optimism that I have decided to continue serving the people of West Virginia in the United States Senate.”

Manchin, perhaps the Senate’s most conservative Democrat, is serving in the minority party for the first time in his political career, following the Republican takeover of the Senate in November.

Manchin said that he considered his time as governor his “life’s most fulfilling work.

“By removing politics and putting people first, we greatly improved out state,” he said. “I truly believed we could take that success and our common sense approaches to Washington to improve the dysfunction in Congress.”

It’s been difficult, he said, but he now thinks he can make the greatest difference by staying in the Senate.

“I have always said that when my country succeeds, my state succeeds,” Manchin said. “This place may not be working now, but I’m not going to stop fighting to make it work.”

He first made his announcement Sunday morning on the national news show Face the Nation and said he would hold a conference call with West Virginia reporters on Monday.

Had he decided to run for governor, Manchin would have been the early frontrunner. Two recently released polls showed him with commanding leads over other possible candidates.

His decision to stay in the Senate leaves the gubernatorial race wide open.

On the Democratic side, Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, has said he is considering the governor’s race, and has changed his pre-candidacy paperwork to reflect that.

Among Republicans, both Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and U.S. Rep. David McKinley have publicly expressed interest in running for governor.

Others rumored to be considering the race include state Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, and U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, a Democrat.