Randy Yohe Published

Justice Endorses Moore Capito For Governor

A picture of voting booth tables with a display of the American flag.
The Justice endorsement of Moore Capito also referred to the negative campaign ads for governor between two opponents, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and businessman Chris Miller.
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Update on Friday, April 19, 2024 at 12:45 p.m.

In a released statement responding to the Justice endorsement, Moore Capito spoke of a partnership.

“Governor Justice is a leader of generational consequence,” Capito said in the statement. “It is a true honor to have earned his endorsement. I’ve greatly enjoyed working alongside Governor Justice, watching and learning from him while we were getting big things done for the people of West Virginia. With Governor Justice at the helm, West Virginia has serious momentum and we’re on the right track toward becoming a 21st century powerhouse. Now is the time to take us to the next level. As Governor, I look forward to working with Senator Justice to keep getting it done for West Virginia by generating new opportunities for West Virginians and those who want to come here for our Wild Wonderful way of life.”

Original Story

One day after telling statehouse reporters he was still considering who to endorse in the hotly contested Republican primary for governor, the outgoing office holder, Gov Jim Justice, announced his pick; Moore Capito.  

In a press release sent out late Thursday afternoon, Justice said “We have good candidates, and I admire each for their individual accomplishments,” But he settled on the candidate who came out last September and endorsed him in his campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Man in dark gray suit with light blue tie
Moore Capito, former House Judiciary Chairman and candidate for governor.

Photo Credit: Perry Bennett/WV Legislative Photography

“I am honored to announce my wholehearted endorsement for Moore Capito for Governor and that I will support him in every way,” Justice said in his release. “He is from a family of thoroughbreds: from his three-time-elected Governor-grandfather Arch Moore to his current United States Senator-mother Shelley Moore Capito, Moore has shown he has the vision and knowledge to elevate West Virginia, and I am proud to wish him success.”

The writing was on the wall for this endorsement. Justice gained the endorsement of Moore Capito’s mother, Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., when he announced his Senate run last April. In December, Moore Capito announced his resignation from the House of Delegates, to focus on his gubernatorial campaign, during one of Justice’s online statewide media briefings. 

The Justice endorsement of Moore Capito also referred to the negative campaign ads for governor between two opponents, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and businessman Chris Miller. Their messages center on who is more pro-former President Donald Trump, or anti-transgender.

“As I have watched this campaign mature, however, I am saddened by the ridiculous mudslinging” Justice said. “I have realized only one candidate is laser focused on continuing to keep us on the path of goodness for all of us. I think only one truly understands that we got here by pulling the rope together. Our great turnaround story still has chapters to be written, and I believe one candidate is prepared to keep the course.” 

Professor John Kilwein, chair of the Department of Political Science at West Virginia University, says the Justice endorsement of Moore Capito makes sense within some of the state’s politically established circles. 

“There’s an establishment that looks at the race for governor and I don’t think they probably like what they see and would probably rather see Moore Capito than then the two people who are ahead in the polls,” Kilwein said.

The latest polling from the WV MetroNews West Virginia Poll shows a close Republican Gubernatorial primary race at the top. Morrisey leads with support from 31 percent of registered Republican voters and independent voters who will request a Republican ballot. Capito is at 29 percent. Chris Miller, son of U.S. Representative Carol Miller, stands at 16 percent. The fourth major candidate, Secretary of State Mac Warner, registered at 12 percent in the poll. The poll had 10 percent of Republican voters saying they were still unsure. 

Some prevailing political analysis speculates the far-right campaign war between Morrisey and Miller may bode well for Capito among more centrist and independent voters.  Kilwein says he is not so sure.

“That would make a lot of sense to me in the general election, but in the primary? I’m not exactly sure,” Kilwein said. “I think that Morrissey and Miller probably have tapped into the kind of the things that animate that electorate. I don’t know that that fear is going to wake up people, independents, who are kind of sitting it out.”

Kilwein did offer the caveat that there are still three weeks until West Virginia’s primary election. He’s ‘not sure how many are paying attention.’