West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey will seek the governorship in 2024.
The announcement is the first of several major political changes expected to impact the state, as current Governor Jim Justice faces term limits and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin remains vague about his future plans.
Morrisey formally announced his campaign at a press conference on April 4 in Harper’s Ferry.
“I’m the only proven conservative in this race with a deep record of fighting and defeating the swamp and the political elites, successfully defending our West Virginia values, and accomplishing the big things West Virginians care about,” Morrisey said in a statement.
Morrisey has served as his state’s 34th attorney general for three terms. Born in New Jersey, Morrisey moved to Jefferson County in 2006 after working as a corporate lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, D.C. He narrowly lost a bid to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Manchin in 2018.
As attorney general, Morrisey has claimed several major court victories. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Morrisey’s favor in June of 2022 and limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate power plants.
“This is about maintaining the separation of powers, not climate change,” said Morrisey, per The Hill.
Morrisey oversaw a number of major settlements with pharmaceutical companies that contributed to the opioid epidemic. West Virginia has the highest overdose death rate due to opioids in the nation.
He has also waded into the cultural war in America. Morrisey is the first attorney general in the nation to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on requiring transgender-identifying athletes to compete on sports teams that correspond with their biological genders.
He joins an already established pack of other Republicans who are seeking their party’s nomination. Campaigns have already been launched by lawmaker Moore Capito, son of Senator Shelley Moore Capito and grandson of former Governor Arch Moore, West Virginia state auditor J.B. McCuskey, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, and Chris Miller, an automobile dealer and son of Representative Carol Miller.
Justice, who has served as governor since 2017, is expected to run for U.S. Senate – possibly challenging Manchin, a Democrat. Under West Virginia law, Justice cannot seek a third term as governor.
Polls show Justice, a former Democrat, would lead other West Virginia Republicans that may enter the race for the senate in 2024, including five-term Congressman Alex Mooney, who announced in November that he will run for the senate after he won his last bid for reelection.
Manchin told reporters in February that Justice’s decision to seek the Senate would not affect his future plans.
“I’ve known Jim for a long, long time. And I think he’d be the overwhelming favorite to win the Republican primary if he gets in,” said Manchin, per The Washington Examiner. “I respect whatever he does, and if we end up running against each other, it’ll be a good, strong, competitive race.”
“God bless them, it’ll be entertaining to watch their primary,” the moderate Democrat added of the West Virginia Republican Party. “That’s the greatest thing.”
Manchin told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on April 2 that he will not announce his future plans until the end of the year. There is speculation that he may campaign for the presidency rather than seek re-election.
“My filing date is Jan. 15 in 2024, and I will make my decision maybe a little bit before that — but not until the end of the year, I can assure you,” Manchin said.