EXCLUSIVE – There’s no letup in the Republican push to oust Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia in next year’s elections.
An outside group aligned with longtime Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell is targeting Manchin – arguably the most vulnerable Democratic senator up for re-election next year – with a new ad blitz that claims a bill signed into law by President Biden that the senator heavily supported and helped write “could cost West Virginia 100,000 fossil fuel jobs.”
“West Virginia’s way of life depends on coal jobs. But the purpose of the climate provisions in Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act supported by Sen. Joe Manchin was to drive coal plants out of business,” charges the narrator in a new TV commercial by One Nation, a conservative public advocacy group and the sister organization of the pro-GOP super PAC Senate Leadership Fund.
The narrator in the spot, which was shared first with Fox News on Wednesday, argues that “Sen. Manchin’s deciding vote for Biden’s law could cost West Virginia 100,00 fossil fuel jobs. And what did Sen. Manchin get? A pen. Tell Sen. Manchin to stop writing off West Virginia jobs and backing Biden’s liberal climate policy.”
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The ad uses a clip of the president, at last August’s signing ceremony for the legislation, handing Manchin the pen he used to sign the bill into law.
The president has touted the Inflation Reduction Act – which aims to curb inflation by reducing the deficit, lower prescription drug prices, and invest in domestic energy production while promoting clean energy – as one of his signature domestic achievements and is expected to heavily showcase the measure in his 2024 re-election campaign.
Manchin opposed an earlier and larger version of the bill and took a leading role in re-working and slimming down the original measure, which he had helped sink. A release from the senator’s office at the time of the legislation’s signing was tilted “Manchin’s Inflation Reduction Act Signed into Law.”
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Democrats, who passed the $740 billion bill along party lines when they controlled both the Senate and the House, have highlighted that it will lead to more than $200 billion in deficit reduction over the next decade. But Republicans have railed against the law and used it in last year’s midterm elections and now in the 2024 cycle to target vulnerable Democrats who supported the legislation.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is bad policy for West Virginia and Joe Manchin was crucial to the law’s passage,” One Nation president and CEO Steven Law emphasized in a statement to Fox News. “One Nation will continue to educate West Virginians about the 100,000 jobs which could be lost due to the climate provisions in ‘Sen. Manchin’s Inflation Reduction Act.’”
The spot by One Nation, which says it will spend seven figures to run in West Virginia, is the second straight ad by the group in two weeks to blast Manchin for his support for the Inflation Reduction Act.
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Manchin, a moderate Democrat who is often at loggerheads with his party’s progressive wing as well as with Senate leadership and the White House, has yet to announce whether he will see another six-year term in the Senate in 2024. Once a reliably Democratic state, West Virginia has shifted overwhelmingly red in recent cycles, and then-President Donald Trump carried the state by a whopping 39 points in his 2020 election loss to Biden.
Manchin in recent weeks has stepped up his criticism of Biden’s leadership and agenda and has declined to strike down chatter he may run for the White House next year as a third-party candidate on a potential No Labels ticket.
The senator in recent weeks has also ramped up his attacks on the president’s implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act. Manchin last week threatened to join Senate Republicans in voting to repeal the law – which is a major priority of the GOP majority in the House as part of its demands for raising the nation’s debt limit. And Manchin has also recently joined Senate Republicans in backing resolutions that target the Biden administration’s energy and environmental policies. He’s also – in his role as Senate Energy Committee chair – helped sink a handful of Biden nominees.
Manchin’s office has said the senator’s recent objections are due to what he sees as the administration’s altering of the original intent of the landmark measure.
Last week McConnell landed the recruit he was eyeing in West Virginia, as two-term Gov. Jim Justice launched a Senate campaign last week. However, before making it to the general election, the wealthy businessman-turned-politician will have to win what is likely to turn into a combative GOP nomination race with Rep. Alex Mooney, who is backed by the deep-pocketed, anti-tax, conservative outside group the Club for Growth. Verbal shots between Justice and Mooney have already been fired.
Democrats flipped a GOP-held Senate seat in Pennsylvania in last November’s elections, and they currently hold a 51-49 majority in the chamber, which includes three independent senators who caucus with the Democratic conference.
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That means Republicans need a net gain of just one or two seats in 2024 to win back the majority, depending on which party controls the White House after next year’s presidential election.
The math and the map favor the GOP in 2024. Democrats are defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs, including West Virginia and two other red states – Montana and Ohio – and a handful in key general election battlegrounds.