West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, is facing a growing number of potential Republican challengers that may spell trouble as he heads into his next re-election campaign.
For the past two years, Manchin, a moderate Democrat, has been the king of the Senate as he and fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have played a backstop against some big blue priorities amid the razor-thin margin.
Manchin’s stance as a moderate has given him serious leverage in the chamber, as a “no” or “abstain” vote from him could sink any Democrat bill in the 50-50 Senate.
The West Virginia Democrat has openly wielded this leverage, using his power to push back on party priorities that could alter the fabric of the Senate, such as eliminating the filibuster.
This power has brought scrutiny, though, with other Democrats, particularly progressives, attacking Manchin and Sinema for their votes against these priorities.
Amid the party discord with Manchin, he has garnered at least a couple of potential GOP challengers as his seat goes up in 2024.
The West Virginia Republican is already hitting the ground running, taking a shot at Manchin last week on “Fox & Friends” by saying he is too liberal to be the state’s senator for another term.
“I don’t think Joe Manchin represents our state well and I think we need a change there for a true conservative,” Mooney said.
Mooney also said he believes West Virginia should have a Republican representing the state in the Senate.
Mooney brings a serious Republican challenger into the fray for a seat representing a state that has steadily been moving red. His recent election margin shows that, at least in one of two congressional districts in the Mountain State, he could pull in some serious votes.
Another potential challenger is Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican who was a Democrat from 2015 until 2017.
State press reported Tuesday that Justice is “very seriously considering” a run for Manchin’s seat and that he would continue his term as the state executive until 2024.
“You’ll know real soon,” Justice said at his COVID-19 press conference.
The Republican challengers still face a heavy fight for the Senate seat, even in a state moving more toward the GOP.
Manchin noted in a recent Fox News interview that he’s been opposed in “every election” he’s been in and encouraged “people to get involved in the process.”
The Democrat senator also said he believes the GOP will have a robust primary election for the 2024 race.
“I think it’ll be a very exciting, crowded primary on the Republican side, and we’ll just see how it goes,” Manchin said.
Manchin is an established and popular political figure among West Virginians. He’s been in the Senate since 2010 and also served as the state’s governor.
However, in his last election, Manchin only edged his Republican challenger, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, by just over three points.
Even with his established political career and leverage in the Senate, Manchin will have an elephant-sized target on his back going into 2024 as Republicans look to pick up the seat.
Additionally, with West Virginia moving red, the Democratic nominee for president will have a major effect on Manchin’s chances of re-election.