West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, expressed a keen interest in running for the state’s Senate seat now held by moderate Democrat Joe Manchin.
(Bloomberg) — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, expressed a keen interest in running for the state’s Senate seat now held by moderate Democrat Joe Manchin.
Justice, 71, a former Democrat who announced that he was switching parties at a 2017 rally with then-President Donald Trump, posted a video of responses to questions about his future plans on Twitter Monday afternoon.
Manchin, 75, said Justice’s decision wouldn’t influence his own.
“Whatever he wants to do is fine with me,” he said. “Now that doesn’t change my mind at all. Whatever I do, I’ll make my own decision in my own time. So that won’t pressure me one way or another.”
Manchin had supported Justice’s bid for governor in 2016 when Justice was a Democrat, and the two have known each other for decades.
“I think Jim would be the overwhelming favorite in the Republican primary,” Manchin said.
Republican Representative Alex Mooney has already jumped into the race.
Senate Democrats face a particularly difficult political landscape in 2024, defending 23 seats, compared with 11 for Republicans. West Virginia, a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016 and 2020, is a prime target for Republicans.
“I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m still very, very, very, very seriously considering it,” Justice said of a Senate campaign in the video. “In fact I’m probably leaning that way and you’ll hear an announcement real soon. I’m not one to tease people and mess around with it.”
Asked what would influence his decision, Justice said, “Well, the deciding factor is just one thing. First of all, Washington has really lost its way. There’s no question about that. We may absolutely be in a situation in this country where we could lose our country. You know, I am adamantly opposed to what’s going on at the border and what happened in Afghanistan, what’s going on with energy, what’s going with inflation.”
“I am adamantly opposed to what’s going on with the Biden administration today because I think it’s crazy stuff a lot of times.”
Manchin has often been at odds with parts of the President Joe Biden’s agenda. At the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this month, Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona independent, shared a high-five on the stage as they reaffirmed their opposition to overturning the Senate’s filibuster rule.
Sinema told Bloomberg News she would always support Manchin. Manchin has previously backed a potential run by the Arizona senator who last month became a political independent.
Before entering politics, Justice ran his family’s vast business holdings, including coal companies, agricultural enterprises and the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
His official biography devotes nine paragraphs to his business career and says, “Gov. Justice is the largest farmer east of the Mississippi River.”