Not a week has passed since polls closed, and the jockeying has already begun for 2024 Senate races.
First up: Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), who announced Tuesday morning that he will run for Senate — a race that will pit a Republican against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Mooney also filed a statement of candidacy and a “Mooney for Senate” fundraising committee on Tuesday.
“I’m announcing it right now that I’m running for the U.S. Senate,” Mooney said on MetroNews’ Talkline show in West Virginia. “I’m all in.”
Manchin, a moderate Democrat reelected in 2018 in a state former President Donald Trump won by 42 points two years earlier, has become a thorn in the side of Senate Democrats. Wielding more power than most senators in the evenly divided Senate, Manchin has spent much of the past two years pushing back on elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
After Democrats narrowly held Senate control this election, Manchin is poised to continue to play an outsized role in negotiating legislation for the next two years.
Mooney, who handily won reelection to West Virginia’s second congressional district last week, said on the talk show he felt it was important to make his plans known early as other people consider running for the seat. So far, Mooney said he has “heard at least five other names on the Republican side” who are interested.
Gov. Jim Justice and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who lost to Manchin in 2018, are among the GOP names that have been floated to take on Manchin.
Despite Manchin regularly working with Republicans — and primary threats already being made against moderate Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — no serious contender has announced a challenge to Manchin in the Democratic primary next cycle.
But Manchin himself still hasn’t said whether he will run again, a decision he planned to make sometime after this November’s elections.
Manchin winning as a Democrat had defied partisanship in deep-red West Virginia, giving the party perhaps its only shot at statewide victory there. But his popularity took a hit this fall after Manchin worked with Senate Democrats to pass key elements of Biden’s climate and tax plan, according to polling by Morning Consult.
Among all voters in the state, Manchin’s approval stood at just 42 percent in October, compared to a 51 percent disapproval rating. Manchin’s disapproval rating was up by double-digits since this summer, at 38 percent. The firm found Manchin’s approval even lower among independents, at just 31 percent.
Democrats pulled off an unexpected victory in the Senate this midterm cycle, but are staring down a potentially tougher fight in 2024: defending 23 seats, many in red and purple states, compared to just 10 for Republicans.