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Though we still don’t know whether Sen. Joe Manchin is up for another Senate race, thinking about an entirely different office, or contemplating retirement, the short-term West Virginia political scene is now clearly in view.
As Bloomberg’s Tatyana Monnay and Steven T. Dennis reported, two-term Gov. Jim Justice is officially in the Senate race, going up against Rep. Alex Mooney for the Republican nomination.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Steve Daines (R-Mont.) was ready with a statement praising Justice as “a proven winner,” and Club for Growth-backed Mooney previewed the kind of primary debate to expect: “Jim Justice has a liberal record and Republican primary voters will soon see that he is nothing but a Democrat in sheep’s clothing,” the Mooney campaign said in a press release.
The incumbent’s reaction to his state’s highest-profile Republican wanting his job: “Make no mistake, I will win any race I enter.”
Manchin is alone among Democrats in representing a dramatically Republican-leaning state (even more so than Sen. Jon Tester’s Montana). He’s also uniquely in demand. Democratic leaders need Manchin’s vote, as demonstrated in the debt-limit debate and the frustration being vented against absent/ailing Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Related: Manchin Blasts Rollout of Inflation Reduction Act (WV Metro News)
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More on Senate ’24
Speaking of Daines, in a recent sit-down with BGOV’s Greg Giroux, the Republican tasked with flipping Senate seats said he expects close contests and anticipates that state-specific issues will get swamped by ad barrages on a few cross-cutting themes.
“Each one of these races is going to be very expensive. They’re all going to nationalize,” he said in the BGOV Q&A. “These are going to be tough races that are probably going be within just a few points one way or the other on election night.”
NORTH CAROLINA: This Could Change Everything
The North Carolina Supreme Court today changed its earlier decision about a Republican-favoring congressional map found to be an illegal gerrymander.
Democrats and Republicans both won seven districts under the court-adopted map North Carolina used for the 2022 election. Next cycle, Democrats could end up with a strong chance of victory in only three seats.
Today’s ruling also gives the US Supreme Court a reason to scuttle a major election case, Moore v Harper, which centers on which parts of state governments have authority to shape federal election rules. READ MORE from Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr.
NORTH CAROLINA: Photo ID
The North Carolina Supreme Court today also revived the Republican state Legislature’s photo ID requirement, reversing the court’s opposite decision from December 2022.
“There is no legal recourse available for vindication of political interests, but this Court is yet again confronted with `a partisan legislative disagreement that has spilled out . . . into the courts’,” Justice Philip Berger, Jr. wrote for the majority. “This law is one of the least restrictive voter identification laws in the United States.”
Elections last November flipped the court from a 4-3 Democratic majority to a 5-2 Republican majority. The two liberal justices dissented. — Alex Ebert
FLORIDA: Court Revives Drop Box Ban
A federal appeals court revived Florida election law restrictions—including a ban on drop-box voting—and removed the nation’s third-most populous state from a federal program that scrutinized voting rule changes.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling, which had held that Florida’s law intentionally discriminated against minority voters and sought to prevent voting fraud that didn’t exist. READ MORE from Alex Ebert
CONGRESS: One For You, Jim
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) includes a tip of the hat to departed colleagues in the revival of his legislation seeking to ban mid-decade redistricting and mandate independent redistricting commissions.
He calls the proposal (H.R. 2646) the John Tanner and Jim Cooper Fairness and Independence in Redistricting (FAIR) Act. Cooper (D-Tenn.) retired in 2022 rather than seek re-election after the Republican legislature dismantled his Nashville district. And redistricting was a signature issue for Tanner (D-Tenn.), who served from 1989 to 2011. Cooper’s retirement left Cohen as Tennessee’s lone Democrat in Congress. — Greg Giroux
MARYLAND: Are They Ready or Not?
The Maryland delegation might be on the cusp of a generational shift, though neither Sen. Ben Cardin (D) nor Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) is ready to say so.
Cardin, 79, puts himself in the still-mulling-running-or-retiring category, telling BGOV’s Zach Cohen “We’re talking about that” and “I’m getting there, getting close.”
Hoyer, 83, stepped down from House Democratic leadership at the start of the 118th Congress. Mckayla Wilkes, the Democrat that Hoyer trounced in the 2022 and 2020 primaries, has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. “I will be seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2024 primary for the 5th congressional district. I plan to announce it sometime soon,” Wilkes said in an email. — Greg Giroux
Caught Our Eye
- Missouri Senate votes to make it harder to change constitution (Associated Press)
- Iran-Linked hackers broke election results website (NBC)
- Fake Craigslist ad costs New Hampshire man right to vote (AP)
- Lawmakers say Black voting rights under threat in GOP states (Washington Post)
- Our past coverage: BGOV Archive and BLAW Archive
- Tracking Departures in the US House and Senate
- Litigation Trackers: Loyola Law School and Brennan Center
- BGOV OnPoint: US Senate Elections
- BGOV OnPoint: Gubernatorial Elections
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To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at email@example.com; Alex Ebert in Madison, Wisconsin at firstname.lastname@example.org; Zach C. Cohen in Washington at email@example.com