Updated on August 3, 2017 at 7:56 p.m.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced at a campaign-style rally with President Trump on Thursday that he is switching parties from Democrat to Republican.
“I tell you as West Virginians I can’t help you anymore being a Democrat governor,” Justice said at the rally standing on stage with the president. “So tomorrow I will be changing my registration to Republican.” In his address to the crowd, Justice suggested that he would have an easier time working with the state’s Republican-controlled legislature by switching parties. Trump cheered the decision, saying that Justice “showed the country that our agenda rises above left or right.”
West Virginia used to be a Democratic stronghold, but the state has grown increasingly conservative in recent years and now votes reliably Republican at the presidential and state level. In 2014, the state legislature flipped from Democratic to Republican control. Trump won West Virginia in November, defeating Hillary Clinton in a landslide with 67 percent of the vote.
Like Trump, Justice is a billionaire who ran for election as a newcomer to politics, and was elected in November 2016. During his campaign, he took pains to show he was no fan of Clinton. “I cannot be a supporter of Hillary Clinton,” Justice told a West Virginia radio station last August.