Our View: W. Va. governor’s political expediency ill-advised | Opinion


Shifting with the political winds.

This best describes the politically expedient conduct of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice who, in front of a national television audience during the Donald Trump rally in Huntington a little more than a week ago, switched parties from Democrat to Republican. Gov. Justice, in one fell swoop, fed into every stereotype imaginable about national politicians.

You, of course, know the stereotypes. Can’t be trusted. Will say anything to get elected. Can’t believe a word they say. Fortunately, these stereotypes are not true of many of our politicians who serve us loyally, but unfortunately, Gov. Jim Justice’s abrupt switch furthers all of them.

Certainly Justice is a successful businessman with a history of ties to the Republican Party. Two years ago he actually was a Republican. Then he switched to the Democratic Party when he ran for governor. He beat Bill Cole, a Republican, and headed to Charleston, to the state’s highest office.

Just a few months later, though, Justice switched again as he stood alongside the president at the rally in Huntington. It’s almost unheard of for a governor to switch parties while in office, let alone seven months into his or her first term. The last time a Democratic governor switched to the GOP was in 1991. His name was Buddy Roemer, and he didn’t cross over until year three.

Justice, in his announcement with Trump, seemed to be mocking the party that helped get him elected in West Virginia, saying he couldn’t get anything done with the Democrats and that the Democrats “walked away from me.” It seems, though, that Justice’s history speaks the exact opposite — that Justice is the one who does the walking.

According to the Democratic Governors Association – which spent $1.5 million on Justice’s gubernatorial campaign – Justice did not call the group before he announced his switch.

Instead of switching parties for the sake of political expediency and getting votes, we have a novel suggestion: work with the other party. Find a way to work together instead of representing yourself one way to voters and then acting in another.

In Justice’s speech he said his parents were both Republicans and that both were probably saying it’s about (darned) time he switched back. We think, however, it’s about time Mr. Justice sticks to his principles and offers a steady, reliable form of leadership as opposed to flapping like a sail in the winds of politics.

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