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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins Senate GOP primary

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice sailed to victory in the state’s Senate Republican primary on Tuesday evening, winning more than 60% of the vote with nearly 90% counted, boosting the GOP’s already-high hopes of flipping the critical seat.

Justice had been the favorite to win ever since he entered the race last year. 

He beat out a crowded primary field that included House Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W. Va., Justice’s leading opponent, who is a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Mooney had consistently sought to paint Justice as a “RINO,” or a “Republican In Name Only.” But it appears that Justice’s popularity in the state and pivot to the right were enough to overwhelm attacks against his credibility in the GOP.

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice handily won the GOP primary for his state’s open Senate seat. (Getty Images)

Justice is a former Democrat who announced he was switching party affiliations on stage during a rally with former President Trump in 2017.

Trump announced in October that he was backing Justice, writing on Truth Social, “Big Jim Justice, the Governor of the Great State of West Virginia (I LOVE WEST VIRGINIA!), is BIG in every way, but especially in his wonderful HEART! Strong on the Border, our Great Military & Vets, CLEAN COAL & Energy Dominance, the Economy, Stopping Inflation, & Protecting our 2nd Amendment, Big Jim will be a Great UNITED STATES SENATOR, and has my Complete & Total Endorsement. HE WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN!!!”

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Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice

Justice announced during a 2017 Trump rally that he was switching parties from Democrat to Republican. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

The ex-president swept West Virginia by roughly 40 points in the 2020 presidential election.

Justice’s victory on Tuesday night also gives Republicans good odds of winning the state’s Senate seat in November, particularly because of Sen. Joe Manchin’s decision not to seek re-election.

Manchin, D-W.Va., a moderate Democrat who’s fended off past challenges in an increasingly red state, revealed in November 2023 that this Senate term would be his last.

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Joe Manchin

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s retirement makes the path to victory easier for Justice in November. (Getty Images)

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Justice had said in response to Manchin’s announcement, “Senator Joe Manchin and I have not always agreed on policy and politics, but we’re both lifelong West Virginians who love this state beyond belief, and I respect and thank him for his many years of public service.”

Mooney had been endorsed by the conservative group Club For Growth. In addition to Trump, Justice’s backers included the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and the Senate Leadership Fund, an outside group linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.


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