Justice endorses Capito for governor, cites “mudslinging” in race

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Former delegate Moore Capito’s gubernatorial campaign entered full swing during one of Governor Jim Justice’s briefings in late December 2023, when he announced that he was resigning from the House of Delegates to focus on his bid for governor.

Should he win the primary and general election, it may prove to be Governor Justice who ultimately helped propel him across the finish line.

Governor Jim Justice made his long-awaited endorsement in the governor’s race on Thursday evening. The announcement comes just days after he told reporters in a briefing that he was still deciding who to back.

“I’ve thought about it,” Justice said at the time. “I congratulate all the candidates… we’ll see going forward.”

Justice indicated that he wanted to support a candidate who would continue what he sees as his administration’s successes going forward. In his endorsement statement for Capito, son of Senator Shelley Moore Capito, he said he found his man.

“Our great turnaround story still has chapters to be written, and I believe one candidate is prepared to keep the course,” Justice said. “We have a great opportunity to put President Trump back in the White House and have a unanimous Republican team from West Virginia working together in Washington.”

One factor that Justice says played into his decision was the state of the race. The governor cited the tactics being used by campaigns, saying he was disappointed by the state of the race.

“We have good candidates, and I admire each for their individual accomplishments. As I have watched this campaign mature, however, I am saddened by the ridiculous mudslinging. I have realized that only one candidate is laser-focused on continuing to keep us on the path of goodness for all of us. I think only one truly understands that we got here by pulling the rope together,” Justice said.

In a statement issued in response to Justice’s endorsement, Capito cited Justice’s record and said he looks to take the state “to the next level.”

“Governor Justice is a leader of generational consequence. It is a true honor to have earned his endorsement,” Capito said. “I look forward to working with Senator Justice to keep getting it done for West Virginia by generating new opportunities for West Virginians and those who want to come here for our Wild Wonderful way of life.”

Justice’s campaign endorsement comes as Capito’s campaign is surging. A recent poll by West Virginia MetroNews found him just a few points shy of Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and well ahead of the rest of the field, including businessman Chris Miller and Secretary of State Mac Warner.

It’s the closest the race has been. For months, Morrisey has held a commanding front-runner status.

According to Morrisey’s campaign, Justice’s endorsement will not change that.

“If only politicians and swamp creatures voted, of course the liberal son of a Senator would win.  That’s Capito’s constituency. But West Virginia Republicans aren’t going to elect someone Donald Trump Jr rightfully called a RINO. They are going to overwhelmingly elect Patrick Morrisey,” Morrisey spokesperson Taylor Van Virk said in an emailed statement to Newswatch.

According to the latest quarterly campaign finance filings, three candidates—Capito, Morrisey, and Miller—have over a million dollars on hand to spend.

Newswatch also reached out to the Miller and Warner campaigns for comment. They did not immediately return that request. This article will be updated should they respond.

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