(CNN) – Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who is running for re-election in West Virginia, said Monday he plans to sit out September's Democratic National Convention, the biggest gathering of the year for his party.
"I intend to spend this fall focused on the people of West Virginia, whether that's representing them in my official U.S. Senate duties or here at home, where I can hear about their concerns and ideas to solve the problems of this great nation," Manchin said in a statement.
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Manchin's decision signals he may be trying to distance himself from the Democratic Party as he fights to keep his seat this fall.
While West Virginia tends to be a blue state–with the exception of presidential elections–its recent primary showed that conservative Democrats may be feeling dissatisfied with the party. A federal inmate, whose name appeared on the May 8 primary ballot, pulled a substantial amount of the Democratic vote away from President Barack Obama, finishing the race with 41% compared to Obama's 59%.
Along with Manchin, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Rep. Nick Rahall have also declined to attend the convention in North Carolina, an event that will heavily revolve around the president's re-election bid.
"I will remain focused on bringing people together for the next generation, not the next election," Manchin said in his statement.
In April, Manchin and Tomblin made headlines when they expressed doubt over whether they would vote for Obama in November.
Having first won the Senate seat in a 2010 special election that was held to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. Robert Byrd, Manchin is now up for a full six-year term.
The senator will face off this fall against Republican John Raese, marking the second time the two candidates have gone head to head. Raese ran against Manchin in the 2010 special election, putting up a tough fight for then-governor Manchin.
West Virginia Republicans on Monday wasted no time pouncing on the Democrats' decision to skip the convention, accusing the lawmakers of playing image games.
"We all know the only reason they're refusing to attend the DNC Convention is they're afraid to tell the people of West Virginia who they support for president, and any attempt to suggest otherwise is political spin aimed at purposefully misleading the voters," the state's GOP said.