Report: West Virginia Democratic Gov. Jim Justice to Flip to Republican Party at Trump Rally

Gov Jim Justice Walter Scriptunas IIAssociated Press
Walter Scriptunas II/Associated Press

Gov. Jim Justice (D-WV), a Democrat in a deep red-state, will reportedly switch his party affiliation Thursday at a rally with President Trump — the latest coup for a president who has managed to reach into traditionally Democratic constituencies.

Trump will hold the rally in Huntington, West Virginia, as part of his tour across the rust belt. Trump had promised a “very big announcement” when speaking to reporters at the White House.

The New York Times reported that the announcement would be the conservative Democrat’s move to the Republican Party at the rally, an example of how Trump has redrawn traditional red/blue boundaries in his landmark 2016 campaign.

Justice, a billionaire businessman who made his money in the coal business, refused to endorse Hillary Clinton in August — primarily due to her position on the coal industry.

The failed presidential candidate was forced to apologize after she vowed to “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Clinton was confronted by angry coal miners when she visited the state.

West Virginia has voted Republican in presidential elections since 2000 but has still elected some conservative Democrats into office — a trend that highlights the disconnect between the traditional white working class Democratic voters and the presidential candidates pushed by the Democrats in Washington.

It was this divide that Trump was able to capitalize on and pick off states such as Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Recent polls taken in swing states including Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia indicate overwhelming support for Trump’s plan to cut legal immigration in half — a plan extremely unpopular with Democrats in Washington D.C.

Reporters on the ground in Huntingdon indicated there was strong enthusiasm for the president in West Virginia, with long lines hours before Trump was due to speak.

Last week, Trump held a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, where he was given a rapturous reception by supporters and pledged to continue his fight against the “fake news filter.”

Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter:  @AdamShawNY

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