West Virginia’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice filed paperwork Thursday to run for Senate in 2024 to challenge the lone pro-life Democrat, Joe Manchin.

While both Justice and Manchin are pro-life, Democrats control the Senate — which means they control committees, hearings, investigations and, most importantly, the legislative agenda. A Republican-controlled Senate would be more likely to advance the pro-life cause and halt radically pro-abortion nominees.

The two-term GOP governor filed the statement of candidacy form Thursday, just hours before his expected official announcement, according to FEC filings.

Republican Rep. Alex Mooney is also expected to officially announce his campaign, so the two would face off in the Republican primary for the right to take on the long-term Democrat.

Polling data shows Justice ahead in a possible primary and a possible matchup with Manchin.

The governor would beat Manchin 52% to 42%, respectively, while Mooney would lose by 15 points, according to a February Tarrance Group poll. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who ran against Manchin in 2018 and lost, has announced he is running for governor.

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Justice and Mooney, the latter of whom is endorsed by conservative group Club for Growth, are both vying for an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. The governor is more popular than the congressman among West Virginia’s likely GOP primary voters with 78% support to 48%, respectively, and is up by 31 points in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, according to a March National Public Affairs poll.

The two-term GOP governor has been inching toward a Senate bid since November, and has been meeting with top Republicans like Montana Sen. Steve Daines, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Justice also put his family’s coal business up for sale in preparation for a campaign launch.

Last year, Justice signed the abortion ban to make West Virginia the next to protect unborn babies from abortions.

“The final piece of legislation was the passage of the bill that I call that protects life. Many people refer to it as an abortion bill. It has come to my desk, and I want to tell you right now exactly, I have done exactly, what I said I would do, I signed it. It’s done. It is absolutely done,” Justice said.

“From the moment the Supreme Court announced their decision in Dobbs, I said that I would not hesitate to call a Special Session once I heard from our Legislative leaders that they had done their due diligence and were ready to act,” Justice said in a statement previously. “As I have said many times, I very proudly stand for life and I believe that every human life is a miracle worth protecting.”

Justice said he wanted the legislature to produce a pro-life bill to “ensure a coherent, comprehensive framework governing abortions and attendant family services and support to expecting mothers to provide the citizens of this State more certainty in the application of such laws.”

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