2022 Man of the Year: Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice (R., W.Va.) / YouTube
December 30, 2022

Anyone looking to replace West Virginia's Democrat-turned-Republican governor Jim Justice will have big shoes to fill.

The 368-pound governor, who once compared himself to a grizzly bear, menaces the enemies of freedom with a flair and effrontery that few but the Free Beacon can admire.

In 2016, he pulled one over on the liberal pundits by running as a "moderate Democrat," only to shed his party affiliation on stage with Donald Trump a few weeks after winning. Then in 2017, in response to a budget proposal sent to him by lawmakers, Justice served them with a tray of literal bullshit at the state Capitol. Do you think Justice stopped there? Fat chance. In 2020, he was reelected as a Republican by more than 30 points. There's just no way around him. "Big Jim" is a man in full.

So this year, when Bette Midler took to Twitter to slander hard-working West Virginians as "poor, illiterate, and strung out," the governor dealt the geriatric actress a heavy blow—with a little help from Babydog, his pet bulldog.

"They told every bad joke in the world about us," Justice said of his liberal critics at his January State of the State address. "So from that standpoint, Babydog tells Bette Midler and all those out there, kiss her heinie." Holding Babydog up for the world to see that heinie, Justice earned a standing ovation.

That's how you throw your weight around—and how you stick around—in American politics. Which is why we weren't surprised to hear Justice is "seriously considering" a challenge in two years to Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), a 2021 Free Beacon Man of the Year.

We said last year we reserved the right to revoke Manchin's Man of the Year status should he cave on future left-wing legislation. He did. So congrats, Governor Justice, you could be West Virginia's next senator, but for now, you're the only Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year in the Mountain State.