CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who said Sunday he will not be running for governor in West Virginia next year and plans to continue to serve in the U.S. Senate, is already looking ahead to the next White House Administration.

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U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

Early in the 2016 presidential campaign, Manchin is endorsing Hillary Clinton, a Democrat.

“I absolutely do believe that it will be different,” Manchin said when asked on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline” about how he thinks coal will be addressed within the national energy policy once President Barack Obama leaves office, if Clinton secures the nomination and is elected.

“I think it will be more pragmatic and looking at exactly the facts that we’re dealing with,” he said of a potential Clinton presidency.

“With Hillary, I think I can get her truly to advance the technology it’s going to take for us to be using coal up for three to four more decades, because that’s what it’s going to take,” Manchin said.

“I can’t get this group to move. That’s the problem I’ve got and we’ve been fighting the living daylights.”

Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, was the last Democrat to win West Virginia’s five electoral votes. The former U.S. Secretary of State won West Virginia’s Democratic primary election herself in 2008 with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

On Sunday, Manchin announced his plans to continue to serve in the U.S. Senate and not return to West Virginia for what would have been his third gubernatorial campaign. He called his decision to stay out of the 2016 race “one of the toughest decisions” he’s ever made.

Manchin would have likely been the frontrunner, if he had opted to get into the race, according to several polls.

As for how his decision may affect other potential candidates, “I never asked anybody’s permission when I wanted to run for an office. I had a burning desire. I do, I still have that burning desire to be a public servant and help the people of West Virginia,” Manchin said.

“I shouldn’t be holding you back, whether I make a decision or not, but I knew it might have impeded some people and I just thought, ‘I’ve got to get this behind me and move on.'”

As of Monday morning, the only Democrat to take steps to begin a gubernatorial campaign was Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 02). He filed pre-candidacy papers in March to form an exploratory committee.

In terms of potential Republican candidates, 1st District Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.), state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer, 06) have all said they’re considering possible runs. There have been no announcements, though.

Primary election day in West Virginia is May 10, 2016.

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