West Virginia Republican Governor Jim Justice is set to announce a 2024 campaign for the seat held by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), according to multiple reports.
An invitation teases a “special announcement” at Justice’s Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs on Thursday at 5 p.m. Sources told local CBS affiliate WOWK 13 News and POLITICO that Justice plans to announce his Senate bid at that event, which is taking place on his 72nd birthday, but that plan could change at the last minute.
Justice, a wealthy coal tycoon, was elected governor in 2016 as a Democrat. The following year, he switched to the Republican Party. He is now nearing the end of his second term and is limited to two consecutive terms as governor.
A recent Morning Consult poll shows Justice is more popular than Manchin with Republicans, Democrats, and independents among registered voters in West Virginia.
Justice alluded to his plans during his State of the State address in January.
“I won’t be your governor for a whole lot longer, but I surely won’t go away. You’ll probably be able to find me at home or you may find me in Washington,” Justice said.
GOP senators have reportedly been working to recruit Justice for a Senate campaign against Manchin as they try to wrest control of the upper chamber from the Democrats.
A moderate Democrat and former West Virginia governor, Manchin won re-election in 2018, two years after Donald Trump emerged victorious in the state’s presidential election by 42 points. Manchin and Arizona’s now-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema often serve as a roadblock to leftist proposals in Congress.
Manchin has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election in the upper chamber. The senator told NBC News earlier this month he would not make a decision about his 2024 plans “until the end of the year.” Across multiple recent interviews, Manchin has also dodged questions about his future party affiliation and whether he will run for president.
The Senate race already has a contender in Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), who announced a campaign for Manchin’s Senate seat in November.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared his support for Mooney last week, touting the congressman as a “strong conservative” who will “represent the values” of West Virginia in the Senate, according to Fox News. The Club for Growth PAC also endorsed his campaign.