West Virginia’s Democratic governor announces switch to Republican party

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West Virginia Democratic Gov. Jim Justice announced at a rally Thursday evening with President Trump that he is changing his political affiliation to the Republican party.

At Thursday’s rally in West Virginia, Justice said he no longer could help West Virginians anymore as a Democratic governor, adding that the “Democrats walked away from me.”

Justice added that he suspects both of his parents, who were “staunch Republicans,” are in Heaven right now saying, “Jimmy, it’s about damn time you came to your senses.”

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Following the announcement, the Republican National Committee released a statement, stating that Justice’s political party switch is “another blow” to the Democrats.

“Governor Justice’s party switch is another blow to a Democratic Party that would rather obstruct than work to make our country great again,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel. “Across America, voters have put their faith in the Republican Party because we are the Party fighting to give every individual the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

“With only 15 governorships and control of the fewest state legislatures in history, Governor Justice’s announcement is just the latest rejection of a party that is leaderless from top to bottom and unable to find a positive, unifying message,” the statement continued. “While Democrats continue to put politics before the American people, Republicans are working with President Trump to lead America towards a future with fewer burdensome regulations, greater economic stability, and stronger national security. Governor Justice, welcome back to the Republican Party.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he was “disappointed” following Justice’s announcement.

“I have been and always will be a proud West Virginia Democrat. I am disappointed by Governor Justice’s decision to switch parties. While I do not agree with his decision, I have always said that I will work with anyone, no matter their political affiliation, to do what is best for the people of West Virginia.”

Trump had teased earlier in the day that he had a “very big announcement” for tonight’s rally.

The state is a Trump stronghold, and even as the president faces record-low approval ratings nationally, his popularity has largely held in West Virginia.

At least 1,000 supporters lined the streets ahead of the president’s expected appearance, wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and chanting “USA! USA!” 

The New York Times first reported that Justice planned to announce his party change.

Serafin Gomez is a White House Producer for FOX News Channel, who also covered the 2016 election as a Special Events & Politics producer and former special campaign correspondent for Fox News Latino. Fin formerly worked as the Miami Bureau Producer for Fox News Channel where he covered Florida Politics & Latin America. Follow him on Twitter: @Finnygo

 

 

Peter Doocy is currently a Washington D.C.-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC).  He joined the network in 2009 as a general assignment reporter based in the New York bureau.