Politics

Republicans get justice in West Virginia Senate race

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“Jim Justice is a proven winner whose record of creating jobs, cutting taxes and fighting for conservative values ​​has made him one of the nation’s most popular governors,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee.

Justice made his remarks tonight at The Greenbrier, his luxury resort in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va. The ballroom where Justice delivered his speech was covered in black-and-white signs his campaign put up to advertise his talking points: “Conservative Values.” “Rock Solid Behind the Second Amendment.” “The Most Pro-Life Governor Ever.” “Charter Schools.” “Homeschooling.”

In a campaign video released at the event, the Justice team touted their support for Trump and portrayed him as a rock-shored conservative.

“Joe probably won’t run if I run,” Justice told a small crowd outside the ballroom after the announcement. But he said if Justice isn’t the GOP nominee, then Manchin will run and win.

Manchin said he would not decide whether to run again until the end of the year. He also left the door open for a presidential candidacy.

“I’m laser-focused on the work West Virginia elected me to do — cutting health care costs, protecting Social Security and Medicare, bolstering America’s energy security, and bringing order. in our finances,” Manchin said in a statement on Thursday. “But make no mistake, I will win every race I enter.”

The Republican National Senate Committee played an active role in recruiting Justice. With a 64% approval rating, Justice is the nation’s fifth most popular governor, according to a survey conducted last year by Morning Consult.

During his speech, Justice is fed up with the red meat at the GOP base, denigrating the slogan “defund the police”, denouncing abortion and portraying President Joe Biden as senile. He did not criticize Manchin. At his side all the time was his famous bulldog “Babydog”.

There was a show of support during the Friends of Justice announcement in the Senate. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (RW.V.) was a guest speaker at the event, where she spoke positively about justice but declined to criticize her fellow senator from West Virginia. “It’s about taking back the majority in the United States Senate,” she said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) also appeared at the Greenbrier, highlighting the 2022 midterms that have been disappointing for the GOP.

“We have one in West Virginia,” he told the crowd of a few hundred. “We need help in Washington. We need a winner. We need someone who can win the general election.

Before facing Manchin, Justice must confront the representative of the GOP. Alex Mooney in the Republican primary. Conservative group Club for Growth has pledged to spend at least $10 million on the race and already announced its super PAC spending this week.

Mooney’s campaign said in a statement that “Republican primary voters will soon see that [Justice] is nothing but a democrat in sheep’s clothing. The congressman launches a television ad on Thursday that denounces Justice as a “liberal.” Justice was previously registered as a Democrat and switched parties in 2017.

“Put simply, Alex Mooney is the only proven conservative in this race and the only candidate who can beat Joe Manchin next November,” said John Findlay, Mooney’s campaign manager.

Both candidates would benefit greatly from Trump’s endorsement and seek that support. Mooney flew to Florida for a congressional fundraiser on Friday — and also chatted with Trump at the event. Mooney’s campaign wants Trump to at least remain neutral if he doesn’t endorse the conservative congressman, according to a person briefed on the event.

In a brief interview after the campaign kicked off, Graham declined to predict whether Trump would endorse Justice. “I know he really likes the governor,” he said. “They had a great relationship.”

Democrats seem eager for a messy primary. “The GOP primary in the West Virginia Senate is going to be a nasty, messy, and expensive fight,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokeswoman Amanda Sherman Baity, “and whoever manages to emerge of its intra-party battle, it will be damaged and out of step with the voters who will decide the general election.

POLITICO previously reported that Justice planned to launch his campaign on Thursday.

Burgess Everett, Ally Mutnick and Meridith McGraw contributed to this report.

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