In a surprising twist, former President Donald Trump has thrown his support behind West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. This endorsement deals a significant blow to Justice’s rival, Republican Representative Alex Mooney, who is also vying for the opportunity to face Democratic Senator Joe Manchin III in the general election.
Trump endorses West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice in Senate primary for Manchin's seat – https://t.co/WBNwUYG7Hf
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) October 18, 2023
Trump’s backing of Justice is seen as a victory for establishment Senate Republicans and their campaign arm, as they have firmly supported the governor’s bid. However, this endorsement could be a devastating setback for Mooney and his more conservative base of supporters.
The former president took to his new social media platform, Truth Social, to express his enthusiasm for Justice’s candidacy. Trump praised Justice’s commitment to border security, the military, clean coal, energy dominance, the economy, combatting inflation, and protecting the Second Amendment. In classic Trump fashion, he wrote in all capital letters to emphasize his point.
Justice, in turn, responded to the endorsement by expressing his gratitude and boasting about his conservative credentials. He also took the opportunity to criticize Mooney for receiving backing from anti-Trump groups, such as the Club for Growth, which has been actively advocating against Trump.
Mooney, while expressing respect for President Trump, disagreed with the endorsement and stated that he is the only true conservative candidate in the race that the people of West Virginia deserve.
Both Justice and Mooney have been vying for Trump’s endorsement for months, but even without it, Justice held a significant lead in the polls and outpaced Mooney in fundraising. Mooney has positioned himself as the more conservative option, highlighting Justice’s past as a Democrat until 2017. However, Justice has gained support from a range of prominent Republicans, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Leadership Fund, which is closely linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
With the former president now on his side, Justice’s campaign is bolstered, leaving Mooney with a steep uphill battle to secure the nomination.