Schumer Refuses To Say Whether He’ll Back Manchin, Sinema Over Potential Primary Challengers

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Andrew Trunsky Political Reporter
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declined to say whether he would support Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona if they face primary challengers ahead of their 2024 reelection efforts.

In an interview with CNN, Schumer said that he was not focused on the election cycle three years away.

“I am focused on 2022, getting things done, and winning the election on 2022,” Schumer said, CNN reported. “I’m not at all focused on 2024 right now, and neither should anyone else be. That’s just how you lose in 2022.”

Liberals’ frustration with Manchin and Sinema has risen since President Joe Biden took office over a year ago, largely in response to their willingness to buck their party on issues from the minimum wage to Build Back Better, even though they have largely been reliable Democratic votes. But anger toward the two boiled over in recent days after they refused to alter the Senate filibuster to allow for Democrats’ voting bills to pass without Republican support, essentially dooming any chance the bills have of passing this Congress.

Sen. Joe Manchin walks through the Capitol on Feb. 2. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Their defense of the filibuster prompted many on the left, including Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, to call for them to face more liberal primary challengers. In Arizona, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego has openly flirted with the possibility. (RELATED: Republicans Line Up Behind Manchin And Sinema Amid Their Independent Streak)

Asked whether Schumer was frustrated with Manchin, the senior senator from West Virginia, the majority leader did not give an explicit answer.

“Joe Manchin and I go back a long way, and obviously, I let him know my point of view and (we will) try to persuade him, as does the whole caucus, that our point of view is the correct point of view,” Schumer said.

While Manchin and Sinema are not up for reelection until 2024, Democrats are hoping that a favorable Senate map could help them keep their slim majorities even as the party faces political headwinds nationally. Democrats are defending competitive seats in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and New Hampshire, but they’re eyeing GOP seats in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, where Republicans in the last two are retiring.

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