West Virginia Governor Jim Justice will announce his intent to challenge Democratic Senator Joe Manchin soon.

The Democrat-turned Republican has a 64% approval rating, about 25 points higher than Manchin’s, and has gained popularity through his refusal to dramatically shut down his state during the covid pandemic, as well as by advocating for coal.

Manchin, with his moderate bend, would be considered unbeatable otherwise.

So Manchin may pull a Pence. In 2016, then Indiana Governor Mike Pence was facing a tough re-election battle. Polls had his Democratic opponent consistently ahead. So he jumped at the chance to be Donald Trump’s runningmate, forgoing a likely embarrassing political defeat.

Now, Manchin has said he’s thinking about challenging Biden for the presidential nomination. He’s opposed three of Biden’s nominees, including one to be head of the IRS, so he’d have a rationale to run. And when Biden was delaying an offshore oil and gas lease, Manchin fought back saying the administration was “putting their radical climate agenda ahead of our nation’s energy security.”

When asked if he’d run, he confirmed he was seriously considering it and would “see the lay of the land” in a few months.

GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney are ready to endorse him should be pull the trigger.

If Manchin does run, expect an announcement before May.

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