White Sulphur Springs, WV – (WWNR) – West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice announced Thursday that he is running for Democrat Joe Manchin’s U.S. Senate seat in 2024.
Justice ended months of speculation with the announcement at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs. It came on Justice’s 72nd birthday.
“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,” Justice told a crowd to a standing ovation.
Justice’s entry increases the spotlight on what will be one of the most watched 2024 races in the closely divided U.S. Senate, with the GOP hoping to flip the seat in the overwhelmingly Republican state. Manchin is one of three Democratic senators up for reelection in 2024 who represent a state won by former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. He has been the only Democrat elected to statewide office in West Virginia since Justice switched his party affiliation in 2017.
Earlier Thursday, Justice’s campaign filed a statement of organization for a Senate run on the Federal Election Commission’s website.
Manchin, who endorsed Justice in his first gubernatorial bid before Justice switched parties six years ago and their relationship deteriorated, has said he’ll decide his future political plans in December. Manchin didn’t wait for Justice to make his announcement to throw out a warning Thursday morning.
“I am laser focused on doing the job West Virginians elected me to do — lowering healthcare costs, protecting Social Security and Medicare, shoring up American energy security and getting our fiscal house in order,” Manchin said in a statement. “But make no mistake, I will win any race I enter.”
Justice criticized both the domestic and foreign policies of Democratic President Joe Biden, but did not mention Manchin at the announcement.
“This nation needs us as Republicans to win,” Justice said. “I’ll ask you to run right with me and absolutely, as we have so many times, run to the finish line together.”
The Senate bid by Justice sets up a matchup in the 2024 GOP primary with U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney. Mooney jumped into the Senate race less than two weeks after winning his fifth term in the House last November. State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who lost to Manchin in the 2018 general election, has announced he will run for governor next year.
Mooney’s campaign already has started attacking Justice’s record as governor in a 30-second political ad this week.