West Virginia Democratic Gov. Jim Justice plans to officially switch parties during a local rally with President Donald Trump Thursday evening.
The president promised to make a “very big announcement” during a rally in the state, and three sources independently corroborated that Justice plans to join the Republican party, according to a report from The New York Times.
Justice is a first-year politician who won the 2016 gubernatorial race with 49 percent of the vote. He easily defeated Republican Bill Cole, a surprising turn of events considering that Trump easily dominated the statewide race with 68 percent of the vote in November.
The newly-installed governor is one of the state’s only coal billionaires. He owned 70 active coal mines across 5 states and was also officially endorsed by the United Mine Workers Union during the course of the campaign.
The other Democrat in the state, Sen. Joe Manchin, released a statement in anticipation of the president’s trip to West Virginia. It doesn’t appear that he knew about the impending announcement beforehand.
“Let’s reject partisanship, look for a solution in the middle, and lower taxes for our constituents and business so we can get the economy growing,” Manchin said in the release. “Our job is to fix things, not fight, and I’m excited to work with the president to do just that.”
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