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Sen. Joe Manchin leaves Democratic Party, registers as an independent

Manchin: "I love my country too much to vote for Donald Trump"
"I love my country too much to vote for Donald Trump," Sen. Joe Manchin says 08:11

Sen. Joe Manchin, a lifelong Democrat, left the party to become an independent, the West Virginia senator announced on Friday. 

Manchin, 76, said he registered as an independent at the West Virginia State Capitol, accusing both the Democratic and Republican parties of "partisan extremism." Manchin will remain a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus, according to an aide. 

Manchin announced in November that he won't seek reelection to the Senate. He has also said he won't run for president

He has pushed back against the idea of running for governor, although leaving the Democratic Party in his heavily Republican state could leave open the door for a gubernatorial bid. West Virginia state law says an independent candidate must register as an independent 60 days before the Aug. 1 filing deadline, or June 2. Manchin previously served as governor of the state from 2005-2010.

"From my first day in public service in 1982, I have always focused on doing what's best for my state and my country, without regard to party or politics," Manchin said in a statement Friday. "Throughout my days in elected office, I have always been proud of my commitment to common sense, bipartisanship and my desire to bring people together. It's who I am. It's who I will always be. I have never seen America through a partisan lens."

"However, since becoming a United States Senator in 2010, I have seen both the Democrat and Republican parties leave West Virginia and our country behind for partisan extremism while jeopardizing our democracy," he continued. "Today, our national politics are broken and neither party is willing to compromise to find common ground. 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."

Manchin's announcement also comes the day after former President Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. 

Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report 

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