NYT: W.Va. Gov. Justice switching from Democrat to Republican

The New York Times reports that West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice will announce at President Donald Trump's rally that he is switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. (West Virginia Governor's Office)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat who has battled with the Republican-controlled West Virginia Legislature since he took office, is expected to announce at President Donald Trump’s rally in Huntington Thursday that he is switching to the Republican Party, The New York Times reported.

Citing three sources familiar with the plans, the newspaper said Justice would make the announcement at the rally. Trump is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Trump on Thursday at the White House said he would be making a major announcement in West Virginia, but did not specify what it was.

Eyewitness News reached out to Justice’s office but no one could be reached for immediate comment.

Justice's plans were confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday by a Democratic Party official with knowledge of his plans. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the decision before the announcement.

Justice, a billionaire who owns The Greenbrier resort, ran as a conservative Democrat in the race for governor. He has repeatedly battled with the GOP-controlled Legislature over the state’s finances.

The governor has said he is good friends with Trump and his family. The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was recently in West Virginia to go on a hunting and fishing trip with the governor.

Justice was elected in November with just 49 percent of the vote, 20 percentage points behind Trump's total in the presidential contest in the state. Trump won 77 percent of West Virginia's Republican primary voters in May, The AP reported.

Justice's defection leaves Democrats with just 15 governors among 50 states.

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