CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WDVM) — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and other state legislators addressed the unprecedented request made by three Maryland counties looking to leave the state and join neighboring West Virginia during a special press conference Friday morning.
“We’ve got it going on right now in West Virginia. We are knocking it out of the park. Why wouldn’t you want to come?” Gov. Justice said. “We want everyone to know that we are standing here with open arms. We welcome these counties and would be tickled to death to have them and the great folks of that incredible state.”
This positive reception comes on the heels of a letter sent from Maryland state representatives in Allegany, Garrett, and Washington counties to the West Virginia Legislature asking them to open conversation about moving from Maryland to West Virginia.
West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair has compared the request to West Virginia separating from Virginia during the Civil War. He believes the lack of attention and resources from the eastern part of the state drove a wedge between the two. Now, he sees that exact same thing happening in western Maryland.
Governor Justice said in the press conference that he did not recruit the three counties to be a part of the mountain state. He believes the growing economy, among other things, is the motivation behind the request and plans to welcome them with open arms.
“Our state supports personal freedoms, we value the second amendment, and we love the rights of the unborn. We love and embrace our energy industry,” Gov. Justice continued. “Moving to West Virginia means job opportunities like crazy and a chance to live in paradise. No matter where you’re from, we’d love to have you in West Virginia.”
Gov. Justice went on to announce that he is working with legislative leadership to call a Special Session soon so that lawmakers can consider a resolution to make the offer official.
“I will put this on, you know, in the form of a resolution at the very next opportunity that we have to call our people back into Special Session, and absolutely we will vote without any question to open our arms and welcome,” Gov. Justice said.
State Senator Paul Corderman who represents Washington County released a statement this afternoon saying he does not support the move and believes the majority of constituents in the county agree.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told members of the media at an event in Baltimore Friday afternoon that he thinks the request is a publicity stunt but says he understands that some residents in the three counties could feel neglected or forgotten by the “increasingly more progressive legislature.”