Jim Justice said he is seriously considering dueling it out with the top gubernatorial candidates of the Mountain State.
At the coattails of the announcement, many state leaders started buzzing about what party Justice affiliates with.
According to the Republican National Committee voter file, Justice is registered as a Republican, but the file hasn’t been updated. According to the Associated Press, although he is currently a Democrat he has also been a registered Republican and Independent voter.
“I want to be the guy that’s supportive of people that are going to do something to make our lives better,” Justice said. “I have created jobs, I really do have a real passion for our state. There may be somebody in this state that loves West Virginia as much as me, but there’s nobody that’s going to love it more.
Justice, owner of the Greenbrier Resort and billionaire coal baron, said his plan to adjust his swing toward the Governor’s mansion rather than to the state’s luxurious greens has been on his mind for a while.
“We’re surely thinking very very seriously,” Justice said on Wednesday. “This is not something I’ve come up with the last week or two.”
He said the decision is years in the making, and he has had thousands of people tell him to run.
Justice said the driving force behind his decision comes at a time where he just hopes to improve the state’s economy.
Justice was brought into the spotlight in May 2009 when his company purchased The Greenbrier Resort and the Greenbrier Sporting Club, but he had been shining smaller spotlights on the Greenbrier Valley for years. And his efforts to improve both the region and the state landed him in the top spot on The State Journal’s list of most influential business leaders for 2011.
He is the president and CEO of 47 different companies as well as president of Beckley Little League since 1992, the girls’ basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School and the director of the Mountain State Coal Classic.
In February 2015, Justice sold the Wintergreen Resort in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
While candidates have until Jan. 11 before they can file, Justice and others are thinking quickly in order to begin getting their name in the hat as well as raising money.
According to the Secretary of State’s website, Justice has not filed pre-candidacy papers.
Six people have done so, including Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall.
Others in whispers of possible runs for the governor’s seat include Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.