West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced he is switching party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
Justice made the announcement during a campaign rally held Thursday night in Huntington for President Donald Trump.
“Tomorrow I will be changing my registration to Republican,” Justice said.
The Democratic governor switched parties in 2015 before he announced his gubernatorial bid, but said Thursday he can no longer help the state as a Democrat.
“In last session there was some greatness passed, but there was too much pain. West Virginia was at the alter and the Democrats walked away from me.”
Republican Senate President Mitch Carmichael says he’s not surprised the governor chose to return to the GOP.
“Many of his agenda items have been smaller government, lower taxes, lower regulations and the Democrat Party just rejected him in the Legislature,” he said.
Republican House Speaker Tim Armstead also welcomed the governor to the party Thursday night, saying he looks forward to working toward conservative goals together.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., issued the following statement in response to Justice’s announcement:
“I have been and always will be a proud West Virginia Democrat. I am disappointed by Governor 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.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., issued her own statement Thursday night.
"The Republican Party represents the future of West Virginia. Today, Governor Justice joins me and other Republican leaders in Congress and at the state level who stand for policies that will improve the lives of West Virginians. As the lead Republican in West Virginia, I stand ready to work with him to grow the economy, fight for energy jobs, and create a stronger West Virginia."