Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Billionaire coal operator who is top mine-safety delinquent wins West Virginia governorship

Justice celebrates (Gazette-Mail photo by E. Brian Ferguson)
Jim Justice, the billionaire operator of Southern Coal Corp. and owner of The Greenbrier resort, was elected governor of West Virginia on Tuesday. Justice owed $15 million in taxes and fines in six states as of Oct. 9, making him the nation's top mine-safety delinquent. Justice, a Democrat, beat Republican Bill Close, 49 percent to 42 percent. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump easily won the state, earning his second largest share of votes—69 percent—second only to Wyoming, where he won 70 percent. Republicans control the House and Senate in West Virginia.

"Facing an increasingly conservative leaning state, Justice ran a vague and conservative campaign, something he was criticized for by Mountain Party candidate Charlotte Pritt, who pulled in more liberal votes across the state," Andrew Brown reports for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. "Justice has shrugged off Republican criticisms that he is part of the 'good ol’ boy' system by saying the West Virginia Democratic Party 'never had Jim Justice.' On several occasions he pledged to take the state on a 'jobs rocket ride' if he is elected governor."

Justice said after being elected: “I am an absolute believer that we don’t have to divide business and labor. We don’t have to be at odds with each other over whether you’re rich, poor, black, white, whatever it may be. We don’t need to be at odds with one another whether you be Republican, Democrat, independent. We’ve got too many people on the outside throwing rocks at us, and we have to bond together.” (Read more)

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