CHARLESTON, W.Va., (WDVM) — Governor Jim Justice, elected as a Democrat in 2016, was re-elected tonight as a Republican, Associated Press projects. He defeated Democratic Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango, making his first run for statewide office.
Salango had the backing of the Democratic Party establishment and political muscle of the state teachers’ union and school service personnel. But it was not enough to offset the power of incumbency Justice exercised, especially with a $1.25 billion kitty from federal CARES funding that Justice used to finance local infrastructure projects in every corner of the state in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Justice promised to take West Virginia on a “rocket ride” to prosperity but the state has 30,000 fewer jobs now than when he took office, much from the decline in coal production.
Voters shrugged off news reports that Justice was delinquent on taxes and had substantial business debts, despite being a billionaire. He owns the famed Greenbrier luxury resort in his home county, Greenbrier County.
Justice made the party switch soon after President Donald Trump courted his support. He crushed a primary challenge this summer from former cabinet secretary Woody Thrasher.
Salango is seen as a possible contender in the 2024 race should he work to keep his coalition together.
Below are the most updated results regarding state races in West Virginia. On the ballot includes the governor’s seat, secretary of state, auditor, state treasurer, agriculture commissioner, and the state attorney general.
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