Republicans Make Gains in West Virginia Senate Race – Manchin’s Seat at Risk

Republicans are concentrating on West Virginia in 2024 to overturn the Democrats’ 51-49 edge in the Senate.

Eyes will be on this largely rural state where coal and natural gas remain dominant industries. The Cook Political Report lists that state’s Senate election as one of the few toss-ups in 2024. It is classified as a battleground by Inside Elections and has a Republican tilt, according to Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Repealing Senator Joe Manchin is on the ballot. In a state that has gone from predominantly blue to solidly Republican, he is the sole Democrat to hold statewide office.

The 75-year-old Manchin promised to reveal his plans for 2024 before the end of the calendar year. According to rumors, he might seek reelection or run for president as an independent or third-party candidate.

He stated earlier this year that all options are on the table for 2024. Jim Justice, the governor of West Virginia, entered the Republican Senate primary last week, competing against Rep. Alex Mooney.

Jim Justice, 72, has the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the Senate Leadership Fund, which stands with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

After the party’s performance in the 2022 midterm elections, the NRSC pledged to take a more active role in 2024. Mooney, 51, received support from the Gun Owners of America, the Club for Growth PAC, and Republican lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul.

Justice amassed wealth from farming and the coal mining businesses owned by his family. He announced his Senate run at his White Sulphur Springs resort, the Greenbrier.

In addition to criticizing President Joe Biden, he discussed abortion and gun control, among other topics.

Justice was a Democrat when he was elected governor in 2016 but moved to the Republican party in 2017.

In December 2021, when Manchin indicated he couldn’t back Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, actress Bette Midler stated both Manchin and West Virginia are terrible and that Manchin wants everyone to be just like his state.

A month later, while standing on a podium and pointing his pet dog’s rear end toward the camera, Justice said Midler could kiss Babydog’s ‘hiney’ for demeaning West Virginians.

The response was a resounding standing ovation from the legislators in the chamber.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has stated that he would back a more liberal candidate. Still, no Democrats have declared their intentions to run in the West Virginia primary for the Senate in 2024. The Republican primary in West Virginia will be heated, according to the Senate Majority PAC.

When the GOP seized control of both state legislative chambers in 2014, West Virginia’s political landscape quickly changed from blue to red.

For the first time since 1932, West Virginia’s Democratic registration rate fell below 50%. According to the Secretary of State’s office, West Virginia has approximately 372,000 registered Democrats and 456,000 registered Republicans.

The state legislature’s two houses, the state house (89-11) and the state senate (31-3), are controlled by Republicans with supermajorities. In 2016 and 2020, Trump received 68 percent of the vote in West Virginia.

Manchin also told reporters that he anticipates the primaries to be highly engaging and entertaining.

In 1982, Manchin won a seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates, his first election to public office. He lost the Democratic primary for governor in 1996, was appointed secretary of state in 2000, won the Democratic primary and general election for governor in 2004, and was selected for a second term in 2008.

When Sen. Robert Byrd, a Democrat, passed away in 2010, Manchin ran and won the election to fill the vacancy before being chosen in 2012 for his first full term. He won a second term in 2018 after defeating Patrick Morrisey, the Attorney General of West Virginia, in the general election.

Morrisey is vying for governor despite being a likely Senate candidate in 2024.

Manchin is viewed as a moderate Democrat who frequently deviates from supporting policies supported by Biden and other left-leaning party members. He participated in the passage of Biden’s oversized spending packages and cast two votes to remove Trump from office.

Manchin, who heads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is a senator from a state with a significant coal and natural gas industry.

Manchin warned in April that if the Biden administration continued to use the law to hasten the nation’s shift away from fossil fuels, he might vote to repeal it.

Manchin co-sponsored a motion by Sen. Rick Scott to lift Biden’s suspension of solar tariffs, and he was the lone Democrat to support Republicans in rejecting an EPA regulation on heavy-duty truck pollution.

Though the Biden administration has supported addressing climate change, they have approved fossil fuel projects promoted by Manchin, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which stretches from the northwestern part of West Virginia to Virginia and would deliver West Virginia-produced natural gas.

According to some analysts, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm recently backed the Mountain Valley Pipeline in a letter to federal regulators, suggesting that Biden is trying to win over Manchin’s support for the Inflation Reduction Act.