Gov. Justice wins GOP nod easily
CHARLESTON — The Republican primary election was called early by multiple news outlets Tuesday night with Gov. Jim Justice declared the winner four years after first clinching the Democratic Party nomination for governor in 2016.
According to unofficial vote totals from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, Justice received 64 percent of the vote Tuesday from Republicans and unaffiliated voters with just 12 percent of the state’s 1,706 precincts reporting in by press time.
Justice was joined by First Lady Cathy Justice, his son Jay, his daughter-in-law Katherine, along with friends and supporters at the governor’s mansion in Charleston Tuesday night to watch the results. Justice said he was honored voters gave him a chance to see a second term.
“It’s all because of you,” Justice told supporters. “In every way, I thank you for your support and your love for Cathy and I. I absolutely want to promise you just this: I truly believe – this is not pie in the sky – with all my heart that West Virginia is poised to come out of this terrible pandemic economically in rock-solid shape.”
Justice took office as a Democrat in 2017, but switched parties to Republican later that year at the urging of President Donald Trump. Justice has constantly promoted his friendship with Trump and the Trump family as a reason for voters to keep him in the Governor’s seat. Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr. has been the keynote speaker at two Justice political fundraisers over the last 12 months. President Trump took to Twitter twice over the last seven days to support Justice.
“Vote today for Big Jim, a great Governor,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “Love West Virginia!”
Justice told supporters that he is the best candidate to help guide West Virginia to a place where new businesses and people want to move it.
“I really do believe that we’re sending a message to all the world just that West Virginia is the place to bring your manufacturing plant, to bring you residences – the place to come to. If we continue to upgrade and help our image in every way we can, our future in this state is phenomenal. All the stars are aligning right in our favor.”
Justice’s two major challengers – businessman and former Commerce Department secretary Woody Thrasher, and pilot and former Berkeley County delegate Mike Folk – trailed behind the Governor’s lead. Thrasher received 17 percent of the vote, while Folk received 13 percent of the vote. Other Republican candidates included Brooke Lunsford and Doug Six with 2 percent, Shelby Fitzhugh with 1 percent, and Charles Sheedy, Sr. with .81 percent.
If Justice wins the general election in November, he will be the first elected Republican governor since Cecil Underwood took office for a second non-consecutive term in 1997 – and just six years younger than Underwood when he became the oldest governor in state history.