(CN) — The Republican governor of West Virginia announced Thursday that he would run for Senate in a bid to unseat the Mountain State’s lone Democratic federal lawmaker.
After reports swirled early in the day that he had filed paperwork to run for Senate, Jim Justice made things official Thursday evening at an event in his home state. The West Virginia governor, whose remarks were interrupted briefly by the arrival of his dog, Babydog, on stage, sought to position his candidacy as Republicans’ best chance to secure a Senate majority.
“If you look at the math and you look at what happens if this doesn’t happen in 2024,” Justice said, “can it happen in 2026? The answer is probably no.”
If the governor makes it through a primary battle with West Virginia Congressman Alex Mooney, he will face down Blue Dog Democrat Joe Manchin in a battle to flip the state’s only Democratic congressional seat and secure a GOP lockout of the state.
Justice framed himself as an everyman with unflappable conservative values, pointing to his track record as West Virginia governor where he took tough stances on issues such as abortion, crime and the Second Amendment.
He also touted his state’s performance during the Covid-19 pandemic, referring to himself as “your Covid dad.”
“This state didn’t shut down,” Justice said. “We made the right decision to protect our counties.”
Charleston’s top politician also took aim at President Joe Biden, making comments about his health and blaming the administration for border security issues and inflation. “It’s just all over the park,” the governor said, “and we’re going to have to do something about it.”
Justice was joined on stage by West Virginia’s Republican Senator, Shelley Moore Capito, who threw her weight behind the new candidate.
“This is about taking back the majority in the United States Senate,” the lawmaker said. “This is about changing the agenda in Washington, it’s about setting an agenda for working families, for our children and for going back to conservative values.”
Also present Thursday was South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who said that Senate Republicans were looking for a winner. “West Virginia has proven what does work,” he added. “Jim Justice knows how to deliver for people he represents.”
The governor, meanwhile, doubled down on his belief Thursday that the key to the Senate rests in West Virginia’s hands.
“This nation needs us, as Republicans, to win,” Justice said.Follow @BenjaminSWeiss
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