The official entry of West Virginia’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice into the 2024 Senate race last Thursday is – as we predicted – proving to be Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin’s worst nightmare, and in more ways than one.
Though Manchin has said he won’t make a decision on whether to run again until the end of the year, all signs point to him throwing his hat into the ring one more time, considering how fast he’s running away from Joe Biden and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and considering all the grief he’s recently given some of Biden’s key administrative nominees.
During an on-the-spot interview on the day of Justice’s announcement, Manchin was asked about the Justice news. His response was to talk about how he (Manchin) had been in “many, many, many, many elections” and had only lost once. “I won’t lose another, and never have, I won’t lose one.” When Fox Business reporter Grady Trimble followed up and suggested that maybe Manchin wouldn’t run because he was afraid of losing, Manchin kinda sorta gave the game away for reasons I’ll explain in just a bit.
“I’ve never been afraid of losing an election, I just won’t lose,” Manchin added.
Manchin’s comments echoed a statement he issued that same day, where he wrote: “But make no mistake, I will win any race I enter.”
When Justice was asked about Manchin’s remarks, he was cool as a cucumber in that down-home folksy kind of way that West Virginia voters have gotten used to, complete with Babydog by his side. Justice called Manchin, a former ally of his in the state, a “formidable opponent” but correctly pointed out that “Joe’s done some things that have really alienated an awful lot of West Virginians.”
When Justice speaks of Manchin, he does so with the knowledge that he has been far more popular in the state than Manchin for some time now – especially since the IRA went down, and that includes being more well-liked than Manchin among members of Manchin’s own party:
It’s no wonder Manchin has been pretending to not be a member of Joe Biden’s political party over the last several months, though unfortunately for him some Senate Democrats won’t let him – nor voters – forget it.
All of this said, for Justice to take on Manchin, two things need to happen: 1) Manchin formally declaring his candidacy and 2) Justice making it past the GOP primary, where his most formidable opponent is Rep. Alex Mooney, who is – like Justice – actively seeking former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.
But the primary is shaping up for Justice to be like the general election could turn out for him, according to fresh numbers out from National Journal:
Political insiders who are “in the know” about the kind of person Manchin is have previously indicated his biggest fear is going out a “loser.” So all the rumors about him possibly running for president? I wouldn’t count on it as far as Manchin is concerned. He is, in my opinion, going to try and plant his flag one more time in the Senate, having just a big enough ego to believe he can fool voters in his reddening state one more time.
Time will tell if Manchin ends up coming out smelling like a rose on this one, but the odds are definitely not in his favor, and Manchin has only himself to blame for his current predicament.
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