Primary elections in West Virginia are now upon us, and candidates were making their final campaign trail stops on Monday before voters cast their ballots.
Jim Justice, a Democratic candidate for governor, visited Cider Press Deli & Grill in Inwood. The businessman was feeling pretty good about his chances for the nomination.
“We’re going to win – that’s just all there is to it,” he said. “I am the only candidate that can beat Bill Cole.”
Two of Justice’s big goals as governor are building tourism and agriculture in West Virginia, which are both crucial sectors of the economy in the Eastern Panhandle, as well. He discussed his vision for creating agriculture jobs in the area, and the need for the state to find a “niche crop.” He also talked about promoting and distributing fresh products to the rest of the northeast.
“I want West Virginia and West Virginians to be able to hold their head a little bit higher, to not feel beat down, to not be 50th in everything coming and going,” Justice said.
According to a recent poll, he holds a sizable lead over his two competitors, with more than 20 percent of voters still undecided. Justice received support from 37 percent of voters, while former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin is next in line with 23 percent.
“I’m not a politician or a corporate fat cat,” Goodwin said. “I am somebody who can trust to do what’s in the best interests of all West Virginians.”
Meanwhile, State Senator Jeff Kessler sits third in the polls with 19 percent of voters, and is calling it a “David and Goliath” struggle against candidates spending much more money in their campaigns. Kessler is a proponent of raising taxes to meet the budget shortfall, to avoid cuts to education and law enforcement.
“Knowing the people as I do in this state, they don’t mind small sacrifices if they know they’re going to get the services that they’ve paid for,” he said.
Kessler also stressed the need for Charleston to pay more attention to issues in the Eastern Panhandle.
“They have significant and huge infrastructure needs – with building new schools, improving the road system, water and sewage,” he added. “We have not given them the attention they deserve.”
Polls on Election Day will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The early voting period in West Virginia broke turnout records, with more than 100,000 people casting their ballots before the primaries.