Concerns are rising among the Democratic Party about the 2024 United States Senate race in West Virginia, as Governor Jim Justice announced his candidacy for the open seat last month.
Justice, a Republican, has polled strongly in the race, creating panic among Senate Democrats who know they must protect their slim majority in the upper chamber.
In an effort to ascertain Justice‘s official work schedule from January 2017 to the present, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee threatened last week that it may file a suit, and sure enough, the group announced its lawsuit on Tuesday.
In response to the legal action, Justice‘s campaign manager Roman Stauffer shot back accusations that Democrats are “panicking“ over the governor‘s performance in the polls and are taking measures to prop up state GOP Sen. Alex Mooney, the Democrat‘s most likely opponent in the election.
Stauffer maintained that Justice is the front–runner in the race and is beating every other candidate, citing recent polling.
The DSCC is also pushing to gain access to Justice‘s work calendar, which was first brought to attention in a 2019 Associated Press piece claiming that he was “largely absent“ from the job. At the time, Justice and his team refuted the characterization, saying the calendar does not reflect the full scope of his gubernatorial duties.
“The calendar that you got through your FOIA request is used by my staff to try to keep straight my crazy schedule as governor, which can sometimes change by the minute, and because of this, there are times where all the good work we’re doing never makes it onto the calendar,” his office said then.
Though West Virginia is largely considered a reliable red state, no one knows what will happen in the Senate race. Democrats currently hold the chamber in a 51–49 majority, a number the party knows could easily be overturned. Republicans, on the other hand, only need to defend 11 seats come 2024.
With the Democrats on defense and the incumbent Senator Joe Manchin yet to announce his plans for the future, the party is understandably anxious to ensure their majority stays intact. Whether Justice will be their ultimate undoing or not, time will tell.