President Donald Trump has a clear and focused message for angry liberals across the country.
“We won, move on!”
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Appearing at a massive “Make America Great Again” rally in Huntington, West Virginia on Thursday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice got on board. Justice announced Thursday he’s switching parties to join Republicans as President Donald Trump visited the increasingly conservative state.
Justice told about 9,000 Trump supporters at a rally in Huntington that he will be changing his registration Friday. He recently visited the White House twice with proposals on manufacturing and coal, neither he nor Trump are politicians and they both ran to get something done, he said.
“This man is a good man. He’s got a backbone. He’s got real ideas,” Justice said. “He cares about America. He cares about us in West Virginia.”
Trump said they spoke a few weeks ago about working together to open coal mines and create jobs in furniture manufacturing and other forms of manufacturing. “But Gov. Justice did something else very important tonight. He showed the country that our agenda rises above left or right,” he said.
Friday, the president took to Twitter —
West Virginia was incredible last night. Crowds and enthusiasm were beyond, GDP at 3%, wow!Dem Governor became a Republican last night.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2017
He also retweeted the following —
We won. Move on. pic.twitter.com/YnUKMoyegB
— Trumpism 3.0™ (@Team_Trump45) August 4, 2017
Justice’s defection leaves Democrats with just 15 governors among 50 states.
In West Virginia, his jump is another blow for Democrats in a state they once ran without opposition. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and state Treasurer John Perdue will be the remaining statewide elected Democrats. Manchin is up for re-election in 2018, one of 10 Democratic senators running in states Trump won, a dynamic that gives Democrats an uphill path to reclaiming a Senate majority.
Elected in his first run for statewide office, Justice is a 66-year-old businessman whose family owns farms and coal mines who largely funded his own campaign against then West Virginia Republican Senate President Bill Cole. He has spoken often during the campaign and since publicly about his friendship with the Trump family and hosted Donald Trump Jr. turkey hunting and trout fishing earlier this year.
Justice has turned the daily business operations over to his children while governor. He battled the Republican-controlled Legislature in his first year to limit budget cuts to Medicaid and to state colleges and universities, sometimes with public theatrics like bringing cow manure to a press conference.
He said Thursday that it was the defection of minority Democrats that resulted in outcomes that hurt people. He said both his parents were staunch Republicans. “Today I tell you as West Virginians I can’t help you any more being a Democrat governor,” he said.
Republican House Speaker Tim Armstead said the increases in Republican registration and elected officials show people in the state want change. “We welcome all West Virginians to the Republican ranks,” he said.
Rep. Evan Jenkins, who switched from Democrat to Republican and won a U.S. House seat in 2014, said at a meet-and-greet in Huntington before the rally that “so many people in recent years have switched from Democrat to Republican, and if Jim Justice is making the switch, I welcome him to the Republican Party.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article