On his 72nd birthday, the widely popular governor of West Virginia will launch his bid for the U.S. Senate. This is a long-awaited campaign against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). This will give Republicans a popular recruit in their greatest opportunity to flip a Senate seat. Senator Manchin has had a target on his back by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for quite some time.

Governor Jim Justice will make his announcement on Thursday evening at The Greenbrier, his luxury resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., according to an invitation to the event.

Joe Manchin has been a heavy-weight democrat in the U.S. Senate since 2015. He is a moderate democrat who has been critical of the Biden administration. Manchin made his fortune with the only facility in West Virginia that still uses waste coal to generate electricity. Being dubbed as the only West Virginian to own a Maserati, “Maserati Manchin” has has a target on his back from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

Manchin is a big coal boss, but his potential rival is an even bigger coal boss.

“Gov. Jim Justice (R) is expected to make a decision about challenging Democrat Joe Manchin for his Senate seat in the coming weeks, a move that would pit two politicians with deep connections to the coal industry against each other. Justice, who was included on Forbes‘ billionaires list as recently as 2020, has profited from family businesses in the fossil fuel industry across Appalachia. He would immediately become the front-runner in the Republican primary and potentially in the general election, polls show. His entrance would catapult the race into one of the highest-profile political battles of 2024, with the possibility of showcasing both men’s personal ties to an energy industry that President Joe Biden and other world leaders have promised to largely replace with renewable power.”

Greenwire reports that 90% of West Virginia gets it’s power from coal. That is compared to only 20% nationally. In West Virginia, coal is king; something that both Manchin and Justice know much about.

Conrad Lucas, the former chair of the West Virginian Republican party, had this to say about Governor Jim Justice, “He has an ability to connect with voters that you wouldn’t think an incredibly wealthy person would, but voters have found him incredibly relatable.”

The Senate Leadership Fund conducted a poll of Joe Manchin vs. Jim Justice. According to the poll, Justice leads 52-42.

At the time of this publishing, Joe Manchin has not announced for re-election, stating that he is waiting until the end of the year to decide what is best for his state and his country. Governor Jim Justice, who has outstanding name ID with his voters, is rumored to announce in the coming weeks. This makes Alex Mooney the only contender, so far, for the West Virginia U.S. Senate seat. In the poll conducted by the Senate Leadership Fund, Manchin leads Mooney in a potential head-to-head of 55-40. West Virginia is seen as a key pickup state for Republicans. And the NRSC isn’t backing down.

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