EXCLUSIVE: West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says he is 'seriously evaluating' a gubernatorial run or launching a second bid for the Senate in 2024, posing a potential threat to incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Morrisey — who lost his 2018 Senate bid to Manchin by less than 20,000 votes — touted his conservative record as the Mountain State's top law enforcement officer and suggested that if he were to run for Senate again it would be a 'very, very smooth transition' because of the work he is doing already.
In a letter Tuesday to supporters headlined 'Big news coming,' Morrisey, who has represented the state as attorney general since 2013, wrote, 'I’m ready for these new fights — and likely a new position in 2025 — because I am already leading in the arena and regularly beating back the Biden agenda.'
The letter came the same day West Virginia GOP Rep. Alex Mooney announced he will run as a Republican in the state's 2024 election against Manchin.
'I wanted to alert a lot of my supporters that I'm going through a process. I'm seriously evaluating a run for the U.S. Senate and governor,' Morrisey told Fox News Digital. 'We're gonna take the time, we're gonna listen to people and we're gonna do this the right way. … We have the strongest record of conservative accomplishments of any potential candidate in West Virginia, and I feel good about that. I just wanted to make sure a lot of our supporters were reminded of that fact after the election.'
Morrisey said he is not willing to 'engage in a back and forth against any particular candidate or person,' but he insisted he is 'very proud' of his record and claimed it 'would stand up against anyone that might come against us.'
Asked what would make him a better candidate should he decide to challenge Manchin a second time, Morrisey said, 'I think that the threats from the Biden administration against our freedoms are things that are fundamental to our state and our nation, and I'm out in front leading against them, fighting against them right now.
'If I were to go into the U.S. Senate, we'd be ready on day one to take on the woke culture, to lead against the Green New Deal, to make sure that we're keeping deadly fentanyl out of our communities,' he added. 'Those are the things I'm doing now, and it would be a very, very smooth transition to advance those initiatives out of the U.S. Senate.'
Morrisey touted his team's record of 'fighting back and winning big things' and concluded that he doesn't believe there will be 'many people in the country that have that record.'
'One (thing) you learn after going through this in the past is, when you enter, you're prepared to run and win, and we wanna make sure that we have the support we need,' Morrisey said. 'By all indications, we have a breadth of support that's as deep as it's gonna come in West Virginia.'
For now, Morrisey said he doesn't have a timeline of when he will announce his decision and said he will continue to 'evaluate the options' and 'continue to do the really good work of taking on the Biden administration and protecting our freedoms.'
Other Republicans also have their eye on a challenge to Manchin in 2024, including Mooney, who said during a radio interview Tuesday he wants 'to be a part of the solution' to problems Americans face.
'West Virginia values are at risk in this country. We’re bankrupting America. I want to be a part of the solution there,' Mooney said. 'It’s been talked about a lot, but I’m going to announce. I’m announcing it right now that I’m running for the U.S. Senate. I'm all in.'
Asked about GOP challengers in 2024, Manchin said Tuesday, 'We'll just see how it goes. But, you know, I always wish everyone the best.'
Manchin faced his toughest challenge in 2018, when he won by only 3%, and could face a tight challenge from GOP candidates as West Virginia grows increasingly Republican. Manchin, a moderate Democrat who has pushed back against several proposals from the Biden administration, has faced criticism within his party as a swing vote in the 50-50 Senate the last two years.
Manchin drew national attention when he announced his opposition to Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which needed his vote to pass in the Senate. He continued negotiations with the White House as the bill evolved into the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed thanks to his vote.
Fox News' Patrick Hauf contributed to this article.