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25 Mar 2023
Nick Gilbertson

NextImg:Report: Collins, Murkowski Lining Up to Support Democrat Joe Manchin in 2024

Establishment Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are lining up to support Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) if he decides to seek reelection in 2024, according to a report.

Though Manchin is waiting until the end of the year to make a decision on his political future, and Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) has already declared his candidacy for the seat, Collins and Murkowski both indicated they would back Manchin if he ultimately decides to run, Politico’s Burgess Everett and Ally Mutnick reported.

“He’s a close friend. Should he choose to run again, I would anticipate endorsing him,” Collins told the publication, while Murkowski contributed to Manchin several weeks back, a source said.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) called out the pair for straying from the GOP soon after Politico‘s article was published:

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“Joe is a nice guy, but he always votes for Chuck Schumer as majority leader which has enabled the Dems to destroy our economy, open our southern border, and make crime rampant in America,” Scott tweeted.

“Any support for Joe hurts our chances of getting back a Republican majority in the Senate and is the exact opposite of what our donors and voters want,” he followed up. 

West Virginians have not elected a Democrat to a federal office since Manchin’s 2018 win, which he pulled out as an incumbent by some 19,400 votes or a margin of 3.3 percent.

Mooney represents a more populist wing of the party than Collins and Murkowski, having been backed by former President Donald J. Trump in his reelection bid last year. He announced his candidacy days after winning a fifth term in November.

“West Virginia values are at risk in this country. We’re bankrupting America. I want to be a part of the solution there,” Mooney told MetroNews Talkline at the time.

But some Senate Republicans are recruiting Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) to run for the seat. Six GOP sources within the legislative body told Politico they believe he will launch a bid, which could come as early as April. He has been texting with Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and, in February, met with National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said Justice is “a force to be reckoned with in” the Mountain State and that any candidate of any political persuasion would have trouble overcoming him, per Politico.

Justice, formerly a Democrat, switched to the Republican Party in 2017 after Trump’s landslide general election win a year earlier. His announcement came during a Trump rally in the Mountain State.

He and Mooney were at odds in last year’s Second Congressional District GOP primary. Redistricting forced Mooney to face off with fellow incumbent, former Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), who was backed by both Justice and Manchin. Mooney trounced McKinley, indicating the power of Trump’s influence was superior to Justice and Manchin’s.