Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Can Jim Justice Pull a Trump? ; an Early Look at the 2016 Race for West Virginia Governor

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Can Jim Justice Pull a Trump? ; an Early Look at the 2016 Race for West Virginia Governor

Article excerpt

The race for Governor of West Virginia may still be in a preliminary phase, but three credible candidates have stepped forward and are engaging volunteers, donors, and average citizens. Two of these three Senate President Bill Cole and Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler have been on local radio programs busily selling their wares.

Meanwhile, Kesslers Democratic primary opponent, Greenbrier Hotel CEO Jim Justice, seems to make news just by being Jim Justice whether by giving $100 bills out at a Greenbrier golf tournament or hosting the worlds most exclusive wedding for his daughter, featuring pop music icon Lionel Richie.

Justice does nothing on a cheap or small scale. After all, the man has spent over $250 million in restoring the Greenbrier Hotel to its former glory.

If money is the mothers milk of politics, Justice appears to have cornered the market on Holsteins.

While the richest candidate usually wins in West Virginia gubernatorial politics, one exception to the rule is notable: Arch Moore vs. Jay Rockefeller in 1972, Governor Moores re-election year. Though Rockefeller would later engulf Moore with his wealth in his own re-election race in 1980, in 1972 it was Moore who held the high ground as the sitting incumbent.

Right after Moore learned of Rockefellers decision to run against him in 1972, Moore framed the upcoming contest as a David and Goliath ordeal yet one he was prepared to go through.

I have friends who say, Arch, get out of this race. Youll be running in a 2-1 Democratic state and against one of the worlds greatest fortunes, said Moore but who then added: But Im just not quite ready to do that just yet!

The press and apparently the public that election year ate it up.

However, that was 43 years ago, a time when holding an office, especially the governors office, still carried with it not only power but great prestige.

We live now in a country and a state where holding office is no longer an automatic plus. Distrust of government is an ongoing theme.

This might give Senators Kessler and Cole pause heading into next year. Both have now been at the very top of the state legislative leadership during their political careers. …

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