United States Senator Joe Manchin, the famously fickle Democrat from West Virginia, has drawn a formidable challenge from Republican Governor Jim Justice.
Governor Justice, who announced his candidacy Thursday, peppered his opening speech with references to his record on life, parental rights, 2nd Amendment protections, and cutting taxes.
“Tonight, I am officially announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate, and I absolutely will promise you to God above, that I will do the job, and I will do the job that will make you proud,” said Justice. “I mean it when I tell you I’m a patriot, I mean it when I tell you I love this country, and that’s all there is to it.”
Although the governor still has to win a Republican primary against one challenger, polling suggests Justice is favored to upset the 12-year incumbent. A February poll of West Virginia voters showed Gov. Justice leading Sen. Manchin by 10 points while his Republican challenger would lose to Manchin by 15 points.
In his most recent election, Sen. Manchin beat his Republican challenger by just 0.3 percent of the voter, a far cry from the 61 percent he garnered in 2012. The conservative Democrat has frequently sparred with liberals in his party over support for the coal industry and tax cuts, and he famously suffered the wrath of progressive activists by stymying President Biden’s agenda during his first two years in office.
Democrats face the daunting challenge of defending eight vulnerable senators including Manchin in 2024. He, in addition to other red-state Democrats like Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana, have seen their electorates pulled rightward and a decline in ticket-splitting since the Trump years.
Asked for his response to Governor Justice’s announcement, Sen. Manchin took a pugnacious posture, saying, “I’ve never been afraid of losing an election. I just won’t lose.”
I asked Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) his thoughts on Republican Gov. Jim Justice’s run for Senate in West Virginia.
“I just won’t lose,” Manchin, who has yet to announce a re-election bid, said. pic.twitter.com/ycRWmUKIGq
— Grady Trimble (@Grady_Trimble) April 27, 2023