CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Democratic billionaire businessman Jim Justice has been elected West Virginia’s next governor.
The coal and agriculture magnate defeated Republican state Senate President Bill Cole to keep the office in Democratic control. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has reached his two-consecutive-term limit.
Justice, West Virginia’s wealthiest resident, spoke in largely general terms about his ability to find outside-the-box answers to bring jobs to the struggling state. He pointed to his purchase and turnaround of the once-broke Greenbrier resort.
He faced criticisms for millions of dollars of unpaid mine safety fines, taxes and other bills at his businesses.
Cole, a car dealer, tried to ride the coattails of Donald Trump, who is popular in West Virginia coal country.
The last Republican to serve as West Virginia governor, Cecil Underwood, was elected two decades ago.
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