By formally filing paperwork with the FEC to run against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in 2024, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) has increased the likelihood that Republicans will retake the Senate.

Why it matters: If Justice prevails over an anticipated primary opponent and increased media scrutiny, this could be the most difficult race of Manchin’s career.

The day after Justice officially announced his candidacy, the Biden administration’s energy, inflation, and immigration policies came under fire. Justice said, “We’re going to have to do something about it and we’re going to have to elect somebody that has done it,” among other criticisms.

“I’m hung up on the truth. I am hung up on being a patriot,” he added.

Justice’s approval rating in West Virginia is at 64%, vs. 40% for Manchin, as Axios’ Josh Kraushaar previously reported.
The governor first faces a primary against Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.V.), a member of the Freedom Caucus.

“Make no mistake, I will win any race I enter,” Manchin said in statement after the news of Justice’s filing broke.

Zoom in: Justice, a coal mining and agribusiness magnate, assumed office in 2017 as a Democrat. But months later, he revealed he was switching his party affiliation to Republican at a rally with then-President Trump.