Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) holds a strong lead over Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in an early 2024 Senate race poll.
Justice, who has not officially declared a run for Manchin's seat, led 52% to 48% in a Senate Leadership Fund poll.
"Neither Manchin nor Justice has declared their candidacy for the hotly contested seat. Manchin has technically even left the door open to running for president in 2024, though he has given no indications that he is gearing up for that," the Washington Examiner reported.
"In a hypothetical GOP primary, Justice bests Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), who is currently the only major declared candidate, and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Justice tops both of them, garnering 53% support compared to Morrisey at 21% and Mooney at 16%, per the poll," it added.
The strongest candidate
“The data from this study shows that, across every single metric, Governor Jim Justice is far and away the strongest Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate race in West Virginia, and the only tested potential candidate who currently leads Joe Manchin on a trial ballot test,” said the survey from the Tarrance Group.
"The poll was commissioned by the Senate Leadership Fund, the top GOP super PAC with close ties to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell," Politico added.
Justice appeared to hint at his Senate run by posting quotes from the Politico article in a tweet.
A winning campaign?
The focus on the governor as the "only one that would beat the incumbent" is a strong motivating factor for many Republicans in the state and beyond who want to see the GOP leading in West Virginia.
Nationally, Republicans would certainly support Justice in a Senate run. The campaign would serve as one of the best opportunities to flip a seat from blue to red during the 2024 election.
The win would add to other potential upsets across the country that appear to show Republicans winning back the Senate in 2024.
Manchin's centrist approach has sometimes been helpful to conservatives, but Justice adding another Republican to the Senate would be a much bigger win.