Republicans know that if they can just knock off Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Donald Trump wins the election, they will have control of the Senate. Knocking off Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) or Sherrod Brown (D-OH) would also do the job, but neither state is as red as West Virginia and each of them has been elected to the Senate three times. Manchin is clearly the easiest target.
The NRSC thinks it has an excellent candidate in Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV). Unfortunately, he has a primary opponent, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), who refuses to drop out and who has the backing of the deep-pocketed Club for Growth. Mooney claims he is the only conservative in the race and that Justice, who won his first election as a Democrat, is a turncoat and a RINO. Mooney is a member of the Freedom Caucus and those guys don't give up.
Most Republican senators support Justice, but Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Mike Lee (UT) and Rand Paul (KY) support Mooney. Donald Trump has quietly told Mooney that he won't support him, which was very disappointing. But since Mooney will not lack for money and won't drop out, the NRSC is going to have to spend big-time just to get Justice nominated. Furthermore, that could fail, since Mooney is going to make a big deal about how Justice was first elected as a Democrat while he, Mooney, is a lifelong conservative Republican.
One thing that Justice is going to talk about a lot is that Mooney is a carpetbagger. He was once a state senator in Maryland and even former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. He moved to West Virginia in 2014, so he has been there only 9 years. Many West Virginians have been there nine generations, so the carpetbagger attack could work. If Mooney insists on staying in and the Club for Growth keeps the money flowing, the NRSC will have to spend a lot of money on a race that they thought would be easy—and that's before they even get to Manchin (if he runs). (V)