Tis the season for politicians around the country to evaluate their future career options. There appears to be plenty of that going on in West Virginia this month, where Senator Joe Manchin has yet to announce whether or not he plans to try for a third full term in the upper chamber. But as our colleague Sarah Arnold reports at Townhall, someone seems to be trying to nudge Manchin toward retirement. The “someone” in question is Republican Governor Jim Justice, who is prevented from seeking another term in the Governor’s mansion by term limits. While not calling out Manchin by name, Justice recently stated that he plans to continue to serve the people of his state, whether he does it from West Virginia or Washington.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) may have some competition from a former Democrat who is seriously considering mounting a campaign against Manchin to unseat him.
Two-term Gov. Jim Justice (R-W.V.) revealed that a run for U.S. Senate is highly possible in 2024.
“I’m seriously considering running for U.S. Senate,” Justice wrote on Twitter. “I want continued goodness for our state. I’ll continue helping West Virginia no matter if I’m at home or in Washington, DC.”
Manchin, however, has yet to announce if he plans to seek another six-year term in the Senate come 2024.
This could make for an interesting race to watch because Manchin’s position is far from secure. His own party seems to despise him at the moment because of the way he blocked some of their pet legislative projects over the past two years. Republicans praised his “moderate and bipartisan” efforts, but they don’t plan on rewarding him because Manchin’s seat is high on the list of the ones they are hoping to flip next year. Being one of the few Democrats to hold elected office in the very red state of West Virginia, Joe Manchin could readily be seen as vulnerable in 2024 and Jim Justice might be a likely candidate to take him out if he runs again. Maybe.
Keep in mind that Manchin is already 75 years old. If he wins another term he will be well into his 80s by the time he finishes. Joe Biden provides us with daily reminders that not everyone ages like fine wine and having octagenarians running the country might not be as popular of an idea as it’s been in the past. Justice is no spring chicken himself at 71, so perhaps some of the voters in West Virginia will take that into account.
Justice’s Republican bona fides may be called into question as well. He was a Republican until he switched over to the Democrats in 2015, later switching back to the GOP. It was a move made sheerly out of political convenience, but it may come up during the primary campaign.
There is certainly precedent for a West Virginia governor to make the jump to the Senate. While it may be easy to forget, Manchin was the Governor before running for the Senate. It’s all enough to make you dizzy, but sometimes West Virginia politics is just “complicated.”
The West Virginia Senate race will be closely watched for obvious reasons. Just today, The Hill included the Mountain State on its list of the eight seats most likely to flip next year. Of those eight, seven are held by Democrats. The eighth one is Arizona, where former Democrat (now independent) Kyrsten Sinema will be up for another term. If the Democrats hold a primary and put up someone to oppose her, they could basically split the liberal vote and hand the seat to the Republican candidate, assuming the GOP can convince a solid challenger to run. (Former Governor Doug Ducey has already ruled out a Senate run.)
I think the “red trickle” last November should have taught us all a lesson about counting chickens that are still inside their shells. But at the risk of jinxing the GOP, the playing field for 2024 is looking pretty promising in the Senate.