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West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin registers as an independent

<i>Samuel Corum/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Sen. Joe Manchin talks to reporters as he leaves the Senate floor following a vote on January 23 in Washington
Samuel Corum/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Sen. Joe Manchin talks to reporters as he leaves the Senate floor following a vote on January 23 in Washington

By Clare Foran and Matt Holt, CNN

(CNN) — Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a longtime moderate Democrat, announced on Friday that he is registering as an independent.

Manchin announced last year that he would not run for reelection in the deep red state, creating an opportunity for Republicans to flip the Senate seat. The news that Manchin has registered as an independent raises fresh questions, however, over his political future and aspirations.

“Our national politics are broken and neither party is willing to compromise to find common ground,” Manchin, who has long been a pivotal swing vote in the Senate, said in a statement. “To stay true to myself and remain committed to put country before party, I have decided to register as an independent with no party affiliation and continue to fight for America’s sensible majority.”

If Manchin decides to run for Senate or governor, he has until August 1 to file a statement of candidacy and submit the necessary signatures needed to get on the ballot. He would need about 8,000 signatures to appear on the ballot.

CNN reported in March that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer approached Manchin about running for reelection as an independent.

“I think that’s a long, long, long-shot scenario,” Manchin said at the time. “So I don’t anticipate that happening. I don’t anticipate running.”

But when asked if that meant the door was completely closed, he did not rule it out, saying at the time, “I don’t know if anything in Washington, DC, is 100%.”

A Manchin spokesperson told CNN that he will continue to caucus with Democrats in the Senate.

There are several senators who are registered as independents who caucus with Senate Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Angus King of Maine and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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