Jim Justice, a two-term Republican governor of West Virginia, has reportedly declared his campaign for the Senate in 2024, when Joe Manchin, a current Democrat and former governor, is up for reelection.
Hours before his campaign kickoff ceremony at the storied Greenbriar Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Justice submitted the necessary papers to the Federal Elections Commission on Thursday. The opulent resort is owned by billionaire industrialist and coal mining tycoon Justice.
A moderate Democrat who frequently clashes with his party’s progressive side, occasionally with the party’s Senate leadership, and occasionally with the White House, Manchin has not yet said if he will seek another six-year term in the Senate in 2024.
In 2016, Justice ran as a Democrat for governor of West Virginia and won by a small margin.
After hosting a rally with then-President Donald Trump the next year, he changed his registration to Republican, and he easily won re-election in 2020.
Justice’s tenure is over in 2024, thus he cannot run for governor again.
For months, the governor has made hints about running for the Senate.
He has been in contact with longstanding Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and was actively recruited by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party’s campaign arm.
That suggesting took on more substance on Thursday when Justice formally filed to challenge Manchin for his long-held seat in Congress.
After initiating a campaign in November, Republican Rep. Alex Mooney is already vying for the GOP Senate nomination for West Virginia in 2024.
Mooney, a member of the House Freedom Caucus and a conservative, is most likely to run against Justice from the right.
Mooney has the financial and political clout of the Club for Growth, a group of fiscal conservatives, who have promised to spend eight figures to support the congressman.
In addition, Texas senator Ted Cruz just embraced Mooney as well.
Trump, who is currently undecided in the developing Republican Senate race in West Virginia, and will be a major endorsement sought by both Justice and Mooney.