Manchin Says He Won't Join Trump's Cabinet as Energy Secretary

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said he has no plans to become Donald Trump’s Energy Secretary, an idea that was floated as a way to let the state’s Republican governor name a successor and advance the president’s stalled agenda in Congress.

"That’s not going to happen," Manchin said at a town hall Friday in his home state of West Virginia, spokesman Jonathan Kott confirmed by email.

Administration officials and Republican operatives had been exploring the idea of offering the job to Manchin, who faces a tough re-election fight next year, according to people familiar with the discussions, which were said to be in early stages of consideration. Under that plan, Energy Secretary Rick Perry would move to replace John Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly is now Trump’s chief of staff.

The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.

If Manchin joined the Trump administration, West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, would get to appoint a GOP successor. Justice was elected as a Democrat but recently switched to become a Republican. Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare failed by one vote in the Senate.

Manchin, a Democrat who opposed much of President Barack Obama’s efforts to regulate coal mining and coal-fired power plants, had been considered for the Energy Department post after Trump’s victory in November.