Uncertainty surrounds Justice staff after party switch

During Donald Trump's visit to the increasingly conservative state on Thursday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced that he's switching parties to join Republicans, the New York Times reports.

President Donald Trump at a rally Thursday night said the story of his campaign's collusion with Russian Federation is "a total fabrication".

Hours before the news broke of Justice's switch, the West Virginia GOP Twitter account was still attacking Justice. "He's bot a backbone, he's got real ideas". "We take care of our own citizens and put America first". However, the report said, decrease in demand for West Virginia coal will continue and lead to output shrinking below 80 million tons by 2030 for reasons that include the declining use of coal by domestic power plants linked to timing of low natural gas prices and stricter emissions standards, weak export demand and declining productivity from southern West Virginia. Trump cheered the decision, saying that Justice "showed the country that our agenda rises above left or right". He's totally unsuited for the office and is degrading the office and degrading our country along with it, " he said. And while Trump's national approval rating has steadily gone down since he stepped into the Oval Office in January, his approval rating has remained strong in West Virginia.

The president promised throughout the campaign to resurrect the lagging coal industry that has declined amid changing energy markets, leaving many West Virginia communities devastated.

Trump, while now occupying the highest American political office as a Republican, has in the past identified as a Democrat as well as a part of the Reform Party.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin released a statement in response to Justice's announcement on Thursday evening. However, he made clear that he'll work with anyone regardless of party affiliation to benefit West Virginians.

"Jim Justice said he became a Democrat because Democrats care about the people", Biafore said in the statement. "I would like to invite my good friend and your governor, Jim Justice".

Justice is a sitting governor, and one who won his seat on the back of Democratic voters. Republicans now control both the governors' mansions and state legislatures in 26 states.

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He said Thursday that it was the defection from his positions by minority Democrats that resulted in outcomes that hurt people. "He also said he wants to reduce or eliminate the income tax, and those are core Republican values".

"Today I tell you I can't help you anymore being a Democratic governor", Justice said. "So tomorrow I will be changing my registration to Republican".

"Along the way, (Senate President) Mitch Carmichael and I worked terrifically together", Justice told Kercheval.

West Virginia delivered Trump one of his strongest victories during the 2016 election, with almost 70% of the state's electorate backing the businessman-turned-politician. "I just hope the final determination is a truly honest one, which is what the millions of people who gave us our big win in November deserve", he said.

Jim Justice announced his intent to shed his Democrat label, sending an already raucous crowd of Trump supporters into a frenzy Thursday in Huntington's Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

"In the last session, I'll tell you we had greatness passed with roads and so on, but there was way too much pain", Justice said.

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  • Adam Floyd