West Virginia governor Jim Justice has decided that he’s going to just switch parties during President Donald Trump’s rally in his state. Justice had planned to make the announcement during the rally as he feels that his current party as “walked away” from him.
“Today, I will tell you, with lots of prayers and lots of thinking, today I tell you as West Virginians, I can’t help you anymore being a Democrat governor,” Justice said. “So tomorrow, I will be changing my registration to Republican.”
“It’s time to run another play,” he said, before telling the crowd that his parents were “staunch Republicans” and were looking down on him from heaven thinking, “it’s about damn time you came to your senses.”
Trump won West Virginia by a margin of 68 to 26 and Republicans have control of the state legislature. Justice’s party switch means Republicans now hold 34 state governorships, tying a record set in 1922.
Earlier Thursday, Trump teased that there would be a “very big announcement” this evening in West Virginia, a state that went heavily Republican in the 2016 elections.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin released a statement in response to Justice’s announcement on Thursday evening. “I have been and always will be a proud West Virginia Democrat,” Manchin said. “I am disappointed by Gov. 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.”
Manchin is up for re-election in 2018. With Justice’s move, Manchin will become West Virginia’s only statewide elected Democrat.
This isn’t the first time Justice has switched parties — he was previously an independent and a Republican up until 2015 when he ran for governor as a Democrat. However, this move could indicate a bigger shift in the state