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Manchin Makes Moves as He Mulls Run for Gov

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Image: Joe Manchin, Al Franken, Martin Heinrich
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., a Democratic sponsor of the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline bill, flanked by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., right, and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., left, makes his plea at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup on the controversial project, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. As promised by Republican leaders who now hold the majority in Congress, the Keystone bill is at the top of their agenda after it fell short of passage in December when Democrats ruled the Senate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin is shaking up his political action committee’s staff as he mulls a return to his previous job as governor of West Virginia.

Manchin told NBC News that he will decide “over the next few months” whether he will leave his job in the Senate, where his Democratic Party is newly in the minority.

He announced Thursday that state Democratic party chair Larry Puccio will leave his position to lead Manchin’s political action committee, Country Roads PAC. The move could signal that Manchin is edging further towards a gubernatorial run.

An aide said that the staffing move " will not impact his decision or timing on whether to run for governor.”

The Democrat’s departure from the Senate would likely set up a competitive race in a red-trending state that just elected its first Republican senator in 56 years.

While West Virginia’s Democratic governor would be able to appoint a replacement in the event that Manchin resigns, the temporary slot apparently would run until 2016, when a special election could give Republicans a good chance at winning back the seat.

Manchin says that he will decide on his political future in part based on how much he thinks he can accomplish in the upper chamber. As a conservative Democrat in a party no longer in power, the West Virginia senator acknowledged to NBC that he’s often urged to switch parties.

But, he says, that’s not in the cards.

“It’s not in my DNA,” he said.

NBC's Mark Murray contributed.

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