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Trump ally and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice expected to announce Senate candidacy Thursday

Jim Justice expected to announce Senate bid
Jim Justice expected to announce Senate bid 04:13

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is expected to announce a campaign for U.S. Senate Thursday, setting the stage for a potential blockbuster 2024 race against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. The two are the Mountain State's highest-profile and storied political figures.     

Justice, who has announced a Thursday 5 p.m. press conference at his Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, would face stiff competition for the Republican nomination and a possible head-to-head general election battle against Manchin.

Mine Pollution West Virginia Governor
FILE - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice delivers his annual State of the State address in the House Chambers at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., Jan. 11, 2023.  Chris Jackson / AP

Justice declined to say more about the plans for his Thursday press conference when he spoke with CBS News outside a school in Craigsville, West Virginia, Tuesday. But Justice acknowledged he is already making calls and plans ahead of the likely announcement of his candidacy. 

Multiple West Virginia Republicans told CBS News they expect Justice to launch a run for the Senate at the Thursday event.

Justice told CBS News he has already reached out to former President Donald Trump to discuss a possible Senate endorsement and he said he expects a "potful" of endorsements from Republican state legislators in a race for the Senate.   

Justice told CBS News, "Just look at how I am accepted by the voters. I have a (high) approval rating. You don't just get that by falling off a log."

Justice, who is term-limited and has 20 months remaining in his second term as governor, would face a GOP primary in next spring against Rep. Alex Mooney, Republican of West Virginia. Mooney has touted a series of endorsements from West Virginia state Republicans for his run. On Monday, in a statewide radio interview with host Hoppy Kercheval, Mooney argued he had a more conservative record than Justice.

Justice and Mooney have formed a political rivalry in recent years. In 2022, Justice campaigned for Mooney's opponent in the Republican primary for the U.S. House seat. 

Manchin has not yet announced whether he will seek reelection in 2024. During a public appearance in Martinsburg, West Virginia earlier this year, Justice said he would be a favorite to defeat Manchin, despite Manchin's long tenure and popularity in the state.

Justice was first elected governor in 2016 as a Democrat, before changing parties months into his first term. Manchin, too, is a former governor of West Virginia, serving from 2005-2010.

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