For months, political analysts and strategists have kept a keen eye and ear out for two major developments in the West Virginia Senate election of 2024.
The first and most important issue is whether Democratic Senator Joe Manchin will seek reelection.
The second most critical concern is whether or not Republican Governor Jim Justice, a purported political buddy of Manchin’s, will run against him if he seeks re-election.
Both Manchin and Justice have been exceedingly coy about the matter, with Justice recently hinting he would provide an answer after March 11, the conclusion of the most recent legislative session in West Virginia.
Yet during an interview with Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” anchor Maria Bartiromo, not only did Manchin not rule out a future presidential bid in 2024, but he also remained elusive as to whether he will seek reelection to the Senate. Notable was Manchin’s refusal to state whether or not he still “identified” as a Democrat:
Joe Manchin on whether he still identifies as a Democrat: "I identify as an American." pic.twitter.com/QsaAuuLeud
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) February 27, 2023
Manchin has strong cause to shy away from the “Democrat” moniker, especially as Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) intermittently dangles the “party flip” carrot in front of him.
But although it’s clear that both Manchin and Justice are “testing the waters” to see who would blink first, Manchin appears to be the one most concerned about how a matchup between him and Justice would play out, as he fears going out a “loser” whose bag of tricks has run dry:
Like Biden, Manchin believes he’s the best person to beat this Trump-y character [Justice], and he’s probably right. But he also knows there’s a good chance he could lose: a poll for Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund shows Manchin trailing Justice by 10 points in a head-to-head. If Trump wins the G.O.P. nomination, he’ll likely bolster Justice, too. Trump won West Virginia by 39 points in 2020 and he’ll almost certainly confer support down the ballot. “He doesn’t want to go out a loser,” said a source close to Manchin. “He’s paying very close attention to what Justice does.”
A senior Senate source said that Manchin has changed his mind multiple times about whether or not he will run. “He’s more wishy-washy than a car wash,” the source said. “For all of the problems he’s caused, he’s a political anomaly and a real asset to Democrats.”
In other words, despite Manchin repeatedly telling the media that he wants to do “what’s best for West Virginians” (with that “best” thing in his view being for Manchin to remain in office for the foreseeable future), ultimately, what Joe Manchin is most concerned about is, well, Joe Manchin’s ego and legacy, and after the chickens came home to roost for Manchin over the bogusly-named “Inflation Reduction Act,” Manchin may be
As I’ve already stated, regardless of who Joe Manchin’s Republican opponent may be, the scenario is set for a terrible collapse (assuming he runs again). And if all of this comes to pass in 2024 – or if he retires at the conclusion of this term – he will have no one but himself to blame for his political collapse.