The Slatest

Billionaire Coal Tycoon West Virginia Governor Is Becoming a Republican, Somehow Wasn’t One Already

Jim Justice speaks at a PGA golf tournament in White Sulpur Springs, West Virginia on July 5, 2015.

Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Donald Trump is holding a rally in West Virginia on Thursday night. Earlier Thursday, he promised that “a very big announcement” would take place at the rally. We have now learned what that big announcement is. From the New York Times:

Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia, a Democrat who was elected last year even as President Trump carried the state by 42 points, is expected to announce Thursday night at a rally with Mr. Trump that he is changing parties, according to three sources familiar with the plans.


Here are some facts about Jim Justice:

  • He’s a billionaire who inherited a coal business from his father.
  • According to Forbes, he is the richest man in West Virginia.
  • He became a registered Democrat in February 2015, shortly before he announced his entry into a the governor’s race. Before that, he was a Republican.
  • He not only owns a resort at which the PGA Tour holds an event, he owns a resort at which the PGA Tour holds an event on a golf course called “The Old White Course.”

In other words, the really remarkable thing here is that Jim Justice—an old white golf man who inherited a coal fortune, for God’s sake—was ever a Democrat at all.