West Virginia’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice is running for Senate, according to a Federal Election Commission filing he made Thursday. He’s also expected to make an announcement Thursday afternoon at his Greenbrier resort.

Justice’s Senate bid focuses attention on 75-year-old Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who has yet to announce whether he will run for election in 2024. He has also left the door open for a possible presidential run, telling “Face the Nation” in March “I’m not taking anything off the table.” 

Earlier Thursday, Manchin released this statement: “I am laser focused on doing the job West Virginians elected me to do — lowering healthcare costs, protecting Social Security and Medicare, shoring up American energy security and getting our fiscal house in order. But make no mistake, I will win any race I enter.”

But then, when asked by reporters whether Justice would pose the toughest challenger he would face in a reelection campaign, Manchin replied, “Any election I’ve been involved with, you run scared — run scared unopposed. Any opponent you have is strong and threatening or they wouldn’t jump in or they wouldn’t think they have a chance. You take them all seriously.”

Justice, a coal magnate, has served as governor since 2017. 

Rep. Alex Mooney, a Republican from Charles Town, West Virginia, has also announced he’ll run for Senate. 

Justice recently told CBS News he has reached out to former President Donald Trump, who he has long been closely allied with, to discuss a possible Senate endorsement. Trump won the state by nearly 40 points in 2020.

He also said he expects a “potful” of endorsements from Republican state legislators in a race for the Senate.   

“Just look at how I am accepted by the voters. I have a (high) approval rating. You don’t just get that by falling off a log,” Justice told CBS News. 

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his dog, Baby Dog.

(Photo Credit: Governor Jim Justice/YouTube)

Justice, 71, is believed to be the wealthiest man in West Virginia. 

Justice’s dog, Baby Dog, has made frequent public appearances, particularly during virtual appearances during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Alan He contributed to this report.