Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has yet to announce whether or not he’ll be running for reelection in 2024 and hasn’t ruled out a presidential run either. But Manchin raised more money during the second quarter of this year than the two major GOP candidates vying for his seat, adding to his major cash advantage.
The race is one of three 2024 Senate elections deemed a “toss-up” by the Cook Political Report, along with Ohio and Arizona. In all three elections, the incumbent enjoys a sizable cash advantage over their opponents. Manchin raised about $1.3 million during the second quarter of 2023 bringing his cash total to $10.8 million, according to new Federal Election Commission filings reviewed by OpenSecrets. Most of the money Manchin raised this quarter was transferred from his joint fundraising committee, the Manchin Leadership Fund.
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) announced his bid for Manchin’s Senate seat one week after Election Day in 2022 when he was elected to his fifth term in Congress, telling the Associated Press that launching his campaign early would give him more time to fundraise. From April to June, Mooney raised $411,000, spent $251,000 and ended the quarter with $1.5 million.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced his run for the Senate seat in April 2023. The governor began the race with empty coffers but raised $935,000 during the second quarter of the year, ending June with $809,000 after spending money on political consulting, campaign materials and other operating expenses. Though he hasn’t dipped into his own pockets for campaign funds yet, Justice is a former billionaire, and his races for governor were mostly self-funded.
The Republican primary is off to an early, aggressive start, with Mooney creating an attack ad and website against Justice in April. At phonyjustice.com, Mooney takes aim at “Jim Justice’s LIBERAL Record,” including his support of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan and Justice’s party switch. The governor ran as a Democrat during the 2016 election, before becoming a Republican less than a year into his tenure.
Mooney spent $114,000 on digital marketing over the second quarter, compared to the $1,000 Justice reported spending on advertising. Justice has been more conservative with his funds, spending about 13.5% of the money he raised last quarter, while Mooney spent 61.2% of his earnings.
Mooney and Justice both receive financial support from fellow Republicans
Thirteen Republican leadership PACs contributed $87,500 to Justice’s campaign during the second quarter. Senate Republican leaders have thrown their weight behind Justice, with the leadership PACs of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference Shelley Capito (R-W.Va.) and Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Steve Daines (R-Mont.) contributing a total of $40,000 over the second quarter.
Mooney received $50,500 from 16 federal campaign committees and leadership PACs over the same period, capturing donations from big names including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).
Mooney received an additional $11,000 from conservative PACs in the second quarter, including the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, Freedom’s Defense Fund and Senate Conservatives Fund, as well as an additional $5,000 from the Morgan County Republican Party.
Despite often receiving blowback from Democrats for not toeing the party line on key legislation and confirmations, Manchin received $39,000 from Democratic campaign committees and leadership PACs over the second quarter. Donors include the leadership PACs of Democratic Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), as well as the campaign committee of former Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
Manchin–the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources–was the top recipient of contributions from the oil and gas industry in 2022 and has continued to receive money from PACs affiliated with the industry, raising $17,500 from them in the last three months. Overall, he received $141,000 from PACs.
Manchin relied least on contributions from small donors last quarter, with only 0.33% of his total contributions coming from donors who gave $200 or less. Money from small donors made up 7% of Justice’s contributions and 16.5% of Mooney’s.
An East Carolina University poll of registered voters taken in late May projects Justice with a commanding 22-point lead over Manchin if they meet in the general election while projecting a Mooney victory by a single point. The poll’s Credibility Interval, similar to a margin of error, was 3.7 percentage points.
Manchin said he won’t decide whether he’s running – either for reelection or the presidency – until the end of the year. Last week, Manchin spoke at a New Hampshire town hall sponsored by No Labels, a centrist political organization teasing a third-party presidential run in 2024. At the event, Manchin spoke out against political extremism and dark money in politics while continuing to duck questions about his plans for next year.
“I just want people to know I haven’t made a decision on what I’m going to do in 2024,” Manchin said. “This is not about me or anybody else. It’s about two parties that have gone to their respective side, the extreme right and extreme left, and the middle has been left behind. There’s no voice for the middle.”