Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice filed to run for the U.S. Senate on Thursday, setting up a potential clash with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Forms filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show Justice will run as a Republican in the 2024 election.
The governor is expected to announce his candidacy during an event at his Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs at 5 p.m. on Thursday, which is also his 72nd birthday.
Justice is a wealthy coal tycoon who was elected governor in 2016 as a Democrat. The following year, he switched to the Republican Party. He is now nearing the end of his second term and is limited to two consecutive terms as governor.
A recent Morning Consult poll shows Justice is more popular than Manchin with Republicans, Democrats, and independents among registered voters in West Virginia. GOP senators have reportedly been working to recruit Justice for a Senate campaign against Manchin as they try to wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats.
Manchin has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election. FEC filings show the senator raised $370,000 in the last quarter and has more than $9.7 million on hand.
A moderate Democrat and former West Virginia governor, Manchin won re-election in 2018, two years after Donald Trump emerged victorious in the state’s presidential election by 42 points. Manchin and Arizona’s now-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema often serve as a roadblock to leftist proposals in Congress.
In an interview with NBC News earlier this month, Manchin said he would not make a decision about his 2024 plans “until the end of the year.” Across multiple recent interviews, Manchin has also dodged questions about his future party affiliation and whether he will run for president.
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“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. But make no mistake, I will win any race I enter,” Manchin said in a statement on Thursday.
The 2024 Senate race already has a contender in Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), who announced a campaign for Manchin’s Senate seat in November and has the backing of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Club for Growth PAC.
Justice alluded to his plans during his State of the State address in January.
“I won’t be your governor for a whole lot longer, but I surely won’t go away. You’ll probably be able to find me at home or you may find me in Washington,” Justice said.