Joe Manchin gets a GOP challenger for his West Virginia Senate seat

Rep. Alex Mooney, R, W.Va., announced Tuesday that he will run for Senate in 2024 in a bid to unseat Sen. Joe Manchin.

Manchin faced his toughest challenge in 2018 when he won by only three percent, and could face a tight challenge from Mooney as West Virginia grows increasingly Republican. The moderate Democrat has faced criticism within his party as a swing vote in the 50-50 Senate during the last two years.

Sen. Joe Manchin
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Mooney announced his challenge in a radio interview on MetroNews Talkline on Tuesday morning. He became the first Hispanic congressman to represent West Virginia when he assumed office in 2015. Previously, he worked as a chair of the Maryland Republican Party, where he represented a western district.

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Rep. Alex Mooney
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Manchin drew national attention when he announced his opposition to Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which needed his vote to pass in the Senate. He continued negotiations with the White House as the bill evolved into the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed thanks to his vote.

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President Biden gives Sen. Joe Manchin the pen he used to sign The Inflation Reduction Act with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Manchin, who describes himself as pro-life, voted to keep the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal dollars towards funding abortions, despite efforts from his party to nix the nearly five-decade-old measure. However, Manchin said he was disappointed by the overturn of Roe v. Wade and declared he would vote to codify abortion rights.

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West Virginia has morphed into a Republican stronghold in recent election cycles. Support for Democrats has steadily declined — Al Gore won 46% of the state in 2020 and Biden won just 30% of the state in 2020. The state’s other U.S. Senator is Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican who won 70% of the vote in 2020. West Virginia has not had two Republican senators since 1958.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who switched his party from Democrat to Republican, said in September that it is “possible” he might for Senate in 2024. Manchin has yet to officially declare he will run for reelection.