Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Wednesday he hasn’t decided whether he’ll run for re-election in 2024. But he indicated he has given some thought to a potential run against West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat turned Republican who has signaled interest in the Senate seat.
“It’s going to be interesting to watch the Republican primary,” Manchin said in an interview Wednesday. “Jim Justice seems like he had a great desire. I’ve known Jim for a long, long time. And I think he’d be the overwhelming favorite to win the Republican primary if he gets in. ... I respect whatever he does, and if we end up running against each other, it’ll be a good, strong, competitive race.”
Justice, a favorite of some in the Republican establishment, has known Manchin for years. Manchin endorsed Justice’s successful run for governor in 2016, when he was still a Democrat, and Justice switched parties to become a Republican in 2017, before handily winning re-election in 2020.
The West Virginia Senate race will be one of the most closely watched in the 2024 contest. Manchin has held that seat since 2010, repeatedly defeating Republican candidates in what has become a ruby-red state. If he declines to run, Democrats may be doomed there. And the race could be key to deciding which party controls the Senate as Democrats face a difficult map.
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Manchin said he’s “not in a hurry at all” to make a decision and declined to provide a timeline. “Who knows?” he said. “Our primary is not until May of 2024. And there’s nobody wanting in the wings or champing at the bit.”
Manchin said that if the general election is between him and Justice, he wants a clean campaign focused on substance, without personal or negative attacks.
“I sure would — I would do everything in my power to keep it that way. I think we have a difference as far as in style, to an extent. But basically, I think we both have a love of our state,” Manchin said.
“I’ve done the best I can. I think Jim thinks he’s done the best he can. And let the people make a decision.”
“I know Jim’s family. And I have the utmost respect for the family, but also they’re all my friends. So I would think that he feels the same about my family, too. When all said and done, the smoke clears, you still have that personal relationship and friendship you want to make sure you continue.”
Manchin lamented that sometimes, the tenor of the campaign is “out of the hands of the candidates” because “the pressure from Washington is — they don’t care who they destroy as long as they get 51.”