Politics

West Virginia Gov. Justice Switching From Democrat to Republican

W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice / Getty

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, elected last year as a Democrat, is expected to announce Thursday night that he will be switching parties to the GOP.

The announcement will come at a rally to be held with President Donald Trump in Huntington, W.Va., the New York Times reports. Trump touted "a very big announcement" at the rally throughout the day on Thursday.

Trump is incredibly popular in the Mountain State, where he had his highest six-month job approval of any state in the union, according to Gallup. In the same election where Justice defeated Republican nominee Bill Cole to win the governor's mansion, Trump took the state by 42 percentage points.

Justice ran on a conservative Democratic platform, declining to endorse Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

Justice's party switch means that West Virginia's major office holders are almost exclusively Republican. He, the lieutenant governor, and the attorney general will all be Republicans, as will West Virginia's delegation in the House of Representatives and Sen. Shelly Moore Capito. The only remaining major Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, is a target for Republicans in 2018.