West Virginia's Governor Is Switching Sides

Gov. Jim Justice to announce he's joining the GOP
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2017 6:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump was teasing a "very big announcement" Thursday night in West Virginia, CNN reports. And while West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin had hoped it would be "good news" about jobs or the opioid crisis, it appears instead that the state's Democratic Gov. Jim Justice will reveal he's switching parties. According to Politico, no one in the Democratic Party was warned about Justice's plans. “Obviously we're pissed. I mean let's face it, we put a lot of effort in the 2015 election to elect this man as governor,” a Democratic operative in West Virginia says. Democrats had held the governorship in West Virginia since 2001.

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While Democrats weren't given notice of Justice's switch, they probably shouldn't be surprised. Justice only joined the Democratic Party in 2015 to run for governor. He had been a registered Independent and Republican prior to that and even donated to the Republican Governors' Association a few years before his run as a Democrat. He's also friends with the Trump family and Sen. Mitch McConnell. Plus, the ever-more conservative West Virginia is a hotbed of Trump support. With Justice's defection, there are only 15 Democratic governors in the US and only six states in which Democrats control the governorship and both legislative chambers, the Hill reports. Meanwhile, West Virginia becomes the 26th state in which Republicans control all three. (Read more West Virginia stories.)

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