West Virginia Republicans are hoping to take on Joe Manchin in 2024
Although Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been a frequent source of frustration to the liberal/progressive wing of his party — not unlike Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — many Never Trump conservatives and independents hold him in high regard. And the centrist generally gets along well with non-MAGA Republicans in the U.S. Senate such as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. But far-right MAGA Republicans are another matter, and according to Politico’s Burgess Everett, GOP hardliners in West Virginia are hoping that 2024 will be the year in which Manchin is voted out of office.
“Sen. Joe Manchin is on the verge of giving Democrats a long-awaited energy, tax and health care law,” Everett explains in an article published by Politico on August 2. “Republicans will get a chance to serve their revenge cold in two years. In a potential 2024 race, the West Virginia Democrat would face his state’s conservative voters for what Republicans are already hoping to turn into a referendum on Manchin’s party-line deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. His prospective reelection opponents are already hitting him for ‘betraying West Virginia and destroying our economy,’ as Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) put it. And there’s a crowded GOP field brewing.”
Everett continues, “Manchin’s last win, in 2018, came in a favorable year for Democrats and just weeks after he voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The GOP is banking on a much worse atmosphere in 2024 if Manchin decides to seek a third full term, hoping to take a seat that’s integral to its long-term strategy for holding the Senate majority.”
Working out a deal with Schumer, according to Everett, isn’t sitting well with Republican hardliners.
Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming told Politico, “His party’s very unpopular in the state of West Virginia, and what he’s doing now is very unpopular as well. We’re going to be focused on that seat in 2024. We’ll see what comes to fruition of what promises might have been made to Joe Manchin in order to agree to this.”
But Manchin’s office is arguing that the bill he has agreed to with Schumer will be beneficial for West Virginia.
“Asked for comment about Republicans’ fury over the deal, Manchin’s office pointed out several provisions that would specifically benefit his state: money for carbon-capture energy projects; finishing the Mountain Valley gas pipeline; a $4 billion carveout for coal communities and the health care components that disproportionately help West Virginians. Manchin’s betting those will help the bill become more popular with his constituents, alongside his legendary political run in the state and knack for retail politics.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Manchin, a Democrat in a deep red state, will seek a third term in 2024.
“Three red-state senators who face reelection in 2024 are integral to Democrats’ majority: Manchin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana,” Everett observes. “All represent states that have only gotten more Republican over the past few election cycles, making it critical for Democrats to hold their seats and make space in the caucus for their unique ideological brands. And Manchin comes from probably the toughest state for Democrats of anyone in the caucus, which is why he was so deliberative when it came to supporting a party-line deal with Schumer. It’s plainly clear that Democrats want him to run for the Senate rather than retire, run for governor or pursue something like an independent presidential run. There’s almost certainly no one else who can compete in a Senate race in the state, let alone win one.”
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