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Governor Jim Justice Says He’s Intrigued by Future Senate Run

photo by: Derek Redd

Wheeling resident Pamela Bonawitz, left, talks to Gov. Jim Justice as she pets Babydog, Justice’s English bulldog, on Friday at Wheeling’s Centre Market.

WHEELING — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said he may not be done with public office when his second term as governor concludes in 2024, and that a seat in the U.S. Senate just might pique his interest.

The next time one of West Virginia’s two Senate seats is up is 2024, when the seat of current U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will be on the ballot. That coincides with Justice’s term as governor coming to an end.

While he would not commit 100% to a Senate run, Justice said it is something he’s considering. And if he runs against Manchin, it would mean a potential matchup of arguably the two strongest personalities in West Virginia.

“I don’t really know what I’m going to do right yet,” Justice told The Intelligencer. “Maybe you’ll see me … you know … sticking around and running for national office. But right now, I don’t know.”

When asked directly, Justice acknowledged it is a U.S. Senate seat that has grabbed his interest.

“I guess it’s possible,” he continued. “Who knows?”

The avid sportsman keeps photos of West Virginia sunsets on his phone, but Justice said he is not yet ready to ride off into a sunset on his ATV with hunting rifle in hand.

“I really believe the good Lord made me, Jim Justice, for a reason,” he continued. “That reason does not mean for me to just go home and go hunting. That’s what I love to do. I love to hunt and fish and be outdoors.”

Justice said some might believe he has earned the right to go hunting and fishing now, but he still thinks he should continue to serve.

“What I deserve to do is not just hang out on the beach if I can help somebody,” he said. “Until I can’t do it, until God decides not to give me any more breath, that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”

Justice was elected to his first term as governor in 2016 as a Democrat with the backing of Manchin. After taking office, Justice appointed Manchin’s wife, Gayle Manchin, as the state’s Secretary of Education and the Arts.

Justice in August 2017 announced he was switching his political affiliation to Republican. Gayle Manchin later was removed from the secretary’s job in March 2018, and the position was eliminated.

Justice was mum on who he thinks should succeed him as governor. He said he just wants someone in the office “who cares about the people.”

“Most (politicians) are looking for all the perks, looking for the next parties and all the tips. And all that’s not going to work. We’ve proven that time and time again,” Justice said.

He also isn’t certain whether his long-time friend, former President Donald Trump, will be atop the ballot as a presidential candidate in 2024.

“I think Trump did a lot of really good things. I really do,” he said. “I know the family really well. I see a lot of things happening with our (former) president that are not very fair. When the FBI just invades your home and does that kind of stuff, it doesn’t make much sense to me.

“I know he has his hands full with a lot of personal things right now, and I don’t think it’s very fair. He has not directly talked to me saying, ‘I’m going to run,'” Justice said.


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