West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced he is switching parties to join the Republicans as President Donald Trump paid a visit to the increasingly conservative state.
Before he announced them Thursday evening, Justice’s plans were confirmed to The Associated Press 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 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.
Justice’s defection leaves Democrats with just 15 governors among 50 states.
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