West Virginia’s Republican Governor, Jim Justice, is expected to announce his candidacy for the Senate in 2024. He plans to challenge Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, which could jeopardize the Democrats’ efforts to maintain their slim majority in the Senate. Justice is set to make the announcement at his luxury hotel, The Greenbrier, on his 72nd birthday.
The Campaign Trail
Justice intends to criticize the Biden administration and differentiate himself from Manchin and Republican candidate Rep. Alex Mooney. He is expected to be joined by family, friends, business associates, and other senators at the event. His three-and-a-half-year-old English bulldog, Babydog, is also expected to be a part of the campaign.
The Primary Challenge
Before facing Manchin or another Democratic candidate, Justice must first win the Republican primary where Mooney has already won a $10 million pledge from the conservative Club for Growth. Former President Donald Trump, who is wildly popular in West Virginia, endorsed Mooney in his most recent House election. However, national Republicans view Justice, the state’s wealthiest resident, as a top recruit in their bid to win the Senate seat.
If Manchin decides not to run, Democrats will face a significant challenge keeping the seat from the Republican nominee. Despite his incumbent advantage, hefty war chest, and reputation for breaking with fellow Democrats, Manchin’s party affiliation may be too significant to overcome in a state that voted for Trump by almost 40 points in 2020. Justice’s team believes that a Senate bid could make Manchin less likely to seek reelection.
Justice’s planned Senate bid has been criticized by Mooney’s campaign manager, John Findlay, who called it a “terrible idea.” He believes that Justice has a liberal record and is actually a Democrat in disguise. However, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have encouraged Justice to run for the seat, and he is term-limited from running for governor again.
Manchin’s spokespersons have yet to respond to Justice’s announcement plans. Nevertheless, this race will be significant for both parties, and Justice’s announcement will undoubtedly spark a contentious primary battle.
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