National Republicans scored a major recruitment win this week as popular Gov. Jim Justice entered the West Virginia Senate race. In a state former President Donald Trump carried by 39 points — and where Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has not yet committed to reelection — this is the GOP’s best pickup opportunity on a very favorable map. Early polling from Senate Leadership Fund has shown Justice beating Manchin, but Manchin ahead of the other Republican candidate in the race, Rep. Alex Mooney.

Justice’s announcement is noteworthy because last cycle the National Republican Senatorial Committee — which took a hands-off approach to recruiting and influencing primaries — and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell failed to recruit other popular governors into races in Arizona, New Hampshire and Maryland. They now have a candidate in the race who brings personal wealth and a fundraising network and has also won statewide twice. Morning Consult recently ranked Justice as the country’s fourth-most popular governor, with a 66%approval rating.

As we wrote two weeks ago in a lengthy analysis of the primary amid sources telling

More from the Cook Political Report

Amy FP
First Person
Cook Politcal Logo
Amy House Trump
National Politics