CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas says U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s announcement that he won’t run for governor next year “has recreated some buzz” in the 2016 race.

Lucas said Monday on MetroNews Talkline he believes the Republican nominee would have defeated Manchin in next year’s race even though Manchin’s poll showed Manchin with a 2-to-1 advantage in a hypothetical match-up with state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Belinda Biafore said there’s no doubt Manchin would have been strong next year. As of right now, only state Senator Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) has formed a committee exploring a possible run.

“But I think that’s about to change,” Biafore predicted on Talkline Monday. “I can’t speak on anybody’s behalf but we have some good candidates out there who are weighing their options.”

Three Republicans, Morrisey, state Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer) and First District Congressman David McKinley, have “flirted with the notion of running” according to Lucas but that also may change.

“Our primary field may not be set. It may be none of those guys,” Lucas said.