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Several West Virginia Republicans could pose a threat to the re-election chances of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., after he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a social spending measure last week that would dole out hundreds of billions of dollars and raise hundreds of billions more in new taxes.
Last week, Manchin, after more than a year of on-and-off negotiations with party leadership, came to an agreement on legislation that is largely scaled back from the initial $3 trillion-plus “Build Back Better” bill. The new bill, called the Inflation Reduction Act, spends $433 billion and would raise $739 billion in revenue, according to Democrats.
Manchin’s approval of the measure, which he told “Fox News Sunday” host Bret Baier “does not raise taxes,” has irked several Republican politics watchers in the state, as well as those who are now eyeing a potential challenge to Manchin in 2024, according to sources who have weighed developments in the state.
“The Republican bench is deep and talented in West Virginia,” Luke Thompson, a Republican political consultant, told Fox News Digital. “If Manchin goes through with supporting this legislation, all the bipartisan goodwill he’s built up over the last two years will disappear in a flash. And all the money in the world won’t save him from an irate electorate.”
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Potential GOP contenders for a challenge against Manchin in the state’s 2024 Senate election include Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore, and, while unlikely, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
Morrisey, who was defeated by Manchin in the state’s 2018 Senate election, told Fox News Digital that it’s “too early” to make decisions about 2024, but did not rule out a potential rematch with Manchin.
“While it’s too early to make decisions about 2024, it’s already clear this bill will be deeply unpopular in West Virginia and every citizen voting in upcoming years will connect runaway inflation and skyrocketing power bills to this monstrosity,” Morrisey said. “I’m deeply disappointed that Senator Manchin is voting against such critical West Virginia interests.”
Rep. Mooney, who currently represents the state’s Second Congressional District, will face off in November against Democratic nominee Barry Wendell in an attempt to retain his seat representing the solid red district.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Mooney, who has served in Congress since 2015, also did not rule out a Senate run in 2024, but insisted that he is focused on his own re-election efforts this year.
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“While Donald Trump received 69% of the vote in West Virginia in the 2020 election, Joe Manchin outrageously voted twice to impeach him,” Mooney said. “Once again, he has sold out the people of West Virginia by supporting the liberal Biden agenda. Right now, I am focused on my re-election, but I’m confident Republicans will win the Senate race in West Virginia in 2024.”
Another source also suggested in a statement to Fox News Digital that Manchin is risking a lot by aligning himself with the Democrats’ mainstream agenda.
“With the reconciliation deal, Manchin is yoking his political brand together with Biden and Schumer — a pretty dangerous thing to do for a West Virginia Democrat,” the source said. “It was one thing when he was getting headlines for stopping the Biden agenda — that plays back home. But now he’s the chief defender of a Biden/Schumer bill that won’t reduce inflation, will give rich people incentives to buy Teslas, and raise taxes on almost everyone to do it? Disastrous.”
The same source suggested Moore, a former member of the West Virginia House of Delegates who has served as the state’s treasurer since January, is “having a bit of a moment” in West Virginia after he moved to punish banks that ceased support for the state’s coal industry last week. “Smart money is on Moore,” the source said.
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While he has not declared whether he will run for re-election in 2024, Manchin, whose current term ends in January 2025, said in December 2021 that he “considering” another run and “not ruling anything out.”
“I think most expect he will try to run for re-election, but he’s also famously mercurial,” one source told Fox News Digital, adding that Manchin could decide against continuing his service in D.C. should he “get disgusted with the place after Republicans take control of Congress next year.”
Despite ongoing chatter about the mounting Republican opposition to Manchin in West Virginia, Mike Pushkin, a Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates who also serves as chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party, made it clear that Manchin has support from Democrats in the state.
“Close to 60% of West Virginians approve of the job Joe Manchin is doing and his sponsorship of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will only improve that number,” Pushkin said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Joe Manchin enjoys wide spread support among Democrats, Independents, and most disturbing for the RNC and Mitch McConnell, Republicans. That’s why there’s an organized, coordinated, effort between the RNC and their propagandists, to mischaracterize this landmark piece of legislation…”
Pushkin also stated that support from Manchin for the Inflation Reduction Act will be “amply rewarded” by voters in the state should he seek re-election.
“Manchin’s leadership in achieving a fiscally responsible deal that addresses real needs in West Virginia will be amply rewarded by the voters in West Virginia,” Pushkin said. “Republicans are always for reducing the deficit until they’re in control. Then they develop amnesia and cut taxes for their ultra rich contributors with no means to pay for it.”
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“In successive elections, dating back to his successful campaigns for Governor, Republicans try to portray Joe Manchin as some kind of Washington style politician, out of touch with West Virginia values,” Pushkin added. “West Virginia Democrats and West Virginia voters always see through that smokescreen and vote to re-elect him.”
Fox News did not receive an immediate response from Moore.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this article.