Jim Justice Wins West Virginia’s Republican Senate Primary


Jim Justice, the second-term governor of West Virginia, won the Republican primary for Senate on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, positioning him to win the seat being vacated by Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, and flip it to the G.O.P.

Mr. Justice, a coal and hospitality tycoon known for his pet bulldog and his companies’ prodigious debts, defeated six other candidates for the nomination. His most serious competition came from Representative Alex Mooney from the Second Congressional District — essentially, the state’s northern half.

Mr. Mooney attacked Mr. Justice from the right, criticizing his response to Covid and his expressions of support for President Biden’s infrastructure plan. But Mr. Justice, 73, comfortably led the race from the beginning, and an endorsement by former President Donald J. Trump in October most likely made that lead insurmountable.

Mr. Justice’s Democratic opponent in the general election will be Glenn Elliott, the two-term mayor of Wheeling, who won the Democratic primary, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Elliott was one of three Democrats contending for the nomination. The others were Zach Shrewsbury, a Marine veteran running on a progressive platform, and, to widespread surprise, Don Blankenship, a former coal baron. Mr. Blankenship has run for office several times since 2015, when he was convicted in federal court in connection with an explosion that killed 29 workers at one of his company’s mines. After a year in prison, Mr. Blankenship ran for U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2018 and for president in 2020 as a candidate from the Constitution Party, though he did not come close to winning either race.

Democrats immediately spurned Mr. Blankenship’s candidacy, and prominent figures in the party, including Mr. Manchin, lined up to endorse Mr. Elliott. Mr. Justice is beginning the general election as a heavy favorite in a state that Mr. Trump won in 2020 by a more than 2-to-1 margin.

Mr. Justice’s initial entry into the race last spring was seen as a victory for Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who had recruited him. The governor’s decision to run was especially welcome to Senate Republicans when it was unclear whether Mr. Manchin, who had long managed to buck his state’s partisan trajectory, was going to run for re-election.

The showdown was shaping up to be a dramatic one: Mr. Manchin had championed Mr. Justice’s entry into politics as a Democratic candidate for governor in 2017, but just months into his first term, Mr. Justice announced onstage at a Trump rally that he was switching parties to become a Republican. The relationship between Mr. Justice and Mr. Manchin went south after that, but the governor’s popularity with voters did not. He easily won re-election in 2020, and when the Senate race was approaching, Mr. Justice led Mr. Manchin in early head-to-head polls.

After Mr. Manchin, 76, announced last November that he would be retiring at the end of his term, Mr. Justice’s road to the Senate largely cleared.

Of the two other congressional primaries on Tuesday, one in particular drew national attention. In the state’s First Congressional District, Representative Carol Miller, the Republican incumbent, faced a challenge from Derrick Evans, a former state lawmaker who was arrested after livestreaming himself among the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Since leaving prison, where he served three months on a federal charge of civil disorder, Mr. Evans has been unrepentant, attracting support from far-right figures and campaigning as a “J6 political prisoner.”

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