Joe Manchin is a current member of the United States Senate from West Virginia. A moderate Democrat, he serves as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In the past, he was the committee's ranking member.

Manchin has become something of an outlier in his state. West Virginia politics has become dominated by Republicans. Making Manchin its last-standing member of the Democratic Party to hold a high public office. But that status could change at some point.

Signals he will consider becoming an independent

Joe Manchin says that he could drop his Democratic affiliation and become an independent, notes MSN.

His comments come a few days after Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema made such a change. Bringing the current total of independent U.S. Senate members to three. Another independent, Evan McMullin, had a somewhat close shot at winning a seat from Utah in 2022. But ultimately, he lost to Republican incumbent and former Congressional Join Economic Committee Chairman Mike Lee.

A switch of party affiliation does not seem to be on the immediate horizon for Manchin, according to ABC. Saying he doesn't intend to do it "right now." But also saying that he would "look at" a possible departure from the Democrats. "I can't tell you what the future is going to bring," Manchin added.

Manchin's moderation has drawn the ire from some.

Perhaps most especially the far-left faction of his party. But observers are quick to point out some potential flaws in their criticism. One, that another type of Democrat likely wouldn't stand a chance of winning a statewide race in West Virginia. And losing one Senate seat might not seem like a big deal at first glance. But if Manchin didn't have his seat, the Democrats wouldn't have controlled the Senate for the last two years.

Nor would they have a majority control of Senate committees. Which they're set to have starting early next year.

Manchin was first elected to the Senate in a special election in 2010 by a wide margin. Democratic incumbent Carte Goodwin, who Manchin had appointed to the Senate, was not a candidate in the race. He was elected to a full Senate term in 2012 by a landslide.

Manchin's 2018 re-election triumph over State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was much more narrow.

Is a former governor of West Virginia

Joe Manchin is a native of Farmington, West Virginia; near Morgantown. He graduated from high school there before enrolling at West Virginia University. Manchin was a member of the university's football team, attending on scholarship. But an injury would end his playing career.

Manchin was first elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1982. His first election to the West Virginia Senate came four years later. In 1996, Manchin made his first try at becoming West Virginia's governor. He lost the Democratic primary to former state legislator Charlotte Pritt.

Pritt would lose the general election to Republican former Governor Cecil H. Underwood.

In 2000, Joe Manchin was elected as West Virginia's secretary of state. A few years later, he announced his intention to challenge incumbent Governor Bob Wise in the 2004 Democratic primary. However, Wise, embroiled in scandals in his personal life, didn't end up running for re-election. Manchin would easily win both the primary and the general election. In 2008, he was re-elected over Republican State Senator Russ Weeks in dominant fashion.

Comes from a political family

A. James Manchin, Joe's uncle, was a prominent politician in West Virginia. He served as its secretary of state and as its treasurer. Later, he served in the House of Delegates.

Mark Manchin, son of A. James, is a former state senator. Currently, he's the president of Glenville State University.

In 1967, Joe Manchin married Gayle Connelly. Gayle would eventually preside over the West Virginia Board of Education. In 2017, she was appointed as the state's secretary of education and the arts by Governor Jim Justice. He dismissed her from the role the following year after he switched his affiliation to the Republican Party. In 2021, she was named co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Joe and Gayle Connelly Manchin have three children. Their daughter Heather is a former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Mylan.