West Virginia Republican Rep. Alex Mooney on Tuesday announced he will campaign to dislodge Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) from the Senate in 2024.
Mooney, who won his fifth term in Congress on Tuesday by more than 30 points, is gearing up to win the GOP primary to ultimately unseat Manchin. The West Virginia senator was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and was a key, often unpredictable vote during the 2022 cycle.
“West Virginia values are at risk in this country. We’re bankrupting America. I want to be a part of the solution there,” Mooney told MetroNews Talkline on Tuesday. “It’s been talked about a lot, but I’m going to announce. I’m announcing it right now that I’m running for the U.S. Senate,” Mooney added. “I’m all in.”
Mooney is the first Republican to announce a 2024 primary campaign. Other potential challengers include Gov. Jim Justice (R) and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).
Mooney has been a strong critic of Manchin’s vote for the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, which experts said could increase inflation. A TV ad released by Mooney three months ago slammed Manchin for selling out West Virginia to back President Joe Biden’s massive spending agenda.
“Suddenly, Joe Manchin is backing Joe Biden’s liberal agenda. Manchin is supporting legislation that will raise our taxes, tax our coal industry and devastate West Virginia communities,” the ad said. “Alex Mooney won’t let Joe Manchin and Joe Biden destroy our coal industry and devastate West Virginia.”
The West Virginia seat will be one of the most highly contested Senate races in 2024. It is unusual for a deeply red state to be represented by a Democrat senator. Former President Trump won West Virginia in 2016 and 2020 by nearly 40 percent of the vote.
A Senate Republican strategist told the Hill the Republican Party will pour tons of money to remove Manchin from office.
“I expect a lot of money to pour into West Virginia to try to beat him. It’s by no means a gimme but given the makeup of the state, given Manchin’s record, I expect to see the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] spend big and I’d expect a lot of outside money to pour into the state,” the strategist said. “It would be malpractice not to at least try to take him out.”
Unlike the 2022 Senate map, where Republicans were defending seven more seats than Democrats, Republicans will only defend ten seats to the Democrats’ 23 seats.
The incoming chairman of the Nation Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), told the Hill Republicans have a good chance of flipping the West Virginia seat red.
“Every county in West Virginia has voted for a Republican president on the ballot for a number of cycles. So it’s a state that’s become increasingly more red [like] Montana and Ohio. And so of course we look at every race,” he stated. “We’ll see who’s in the race.”
Along with West Virginia, Republicans will have an opportunity to defeat Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Democrat Sen. Jon Tester in Montana. Arizona’s Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is also up for reelection.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.