Former President Donald Trump endorsed GOP Gov. Jim Justice in the West Virginia Senate race on Wednesday, taking sides in a contentious Republican primary in a state that is a top pickup opportunity for the party.
West Virginia is arguably Republicans’ best chance to flip a Senate seat next year, with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin up for re-election in a state Trump carried by 39 percentage points in 2020. Manchin, who has also not ruled out a third-party presidential run, has not yet said if he is running for re-election.
Trump’s decision to back Justice in the race boosts the governor over GOP Rep. Alex Mooney in the primary. Mooney does have support from the deep-pocketed conservative group Club for Growth, which has pledged to spend millions on the race.
Trump's endorsement is also in line with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines, R-Mont., who has also endorsed Justice in the race.
“Strong on the Border, our Great Military & Vets, CLEAN COAL & Energy Dominance, the Economy, Stopping Inflation, & Protecting our 2nd Amendment, Big Jim will be a Great UNITED STATES SENATOR, and has my Complete & Total Endorsement. HE WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN!!!,” Trump wrote in a post on his social media site, Truth Social.
Justice said in a statement that Trump and his family "have been treasured friends for a long time.
"The job he did as our president was truly amazing," Justice said. "His accomplishments are far too numerous to list. It’s an incredible honor to have his endorsement and confidence in me."
Both Justice and Mooney had previously endorsed Trump’s presidential run.
Trump did endorse Mooney in his House race last year, helping him defeat then-GOP Rep. David McKinley. The two lawmakers ran for the same seat after the Mountain State lost a House seat in reapportionment.
“I support and respect President Trump but I disagree with this,” Mooney said in a statement to NBC News. “I am the only proven conservative in this race that West Virginians deserve.”