It’s always surprising when a politician flip-flops and decides to join a different party. It’s even more surprising when the politician in question does what West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has done and flip-flops back in the opposite direction.
Last month, Justice made headlines when he announced that he was switching parties to become a Republican. However, it seems he hasn’t completely forgotten his roots. He also announced on Monday to a group of Republican lawmakers that he will be supporting Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s re-election bid.
Justice said about his plan to support Manchin:
‘Joe Manchin has been a friend of mine. Now he may be a terrible person to y’all but Joe has been a friend of mine and I’m going to tell you this as straight up as I can be: Joe Manchin is becoming a very key, integral part with Donald Trump. And I’m going to take my read off of Donald Trump.’
Justice also said that he was supporting Manchin because he is President Trump’s “liaison with the Democrats.”
‘Joe Manchin is — and I know this — Joe Manchin is Donald Trump’s liaison with the Democrats. And you want, and I want, what Donald Trump is trying to get done.’
In an interview with BuzzFeed, two Republicans who attended the meeting commented on Justice’s refusal to support any of the Republicans who are running against Manchin. One source, West Virginia GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas, said that he thinks Justice will eventually come around to supporting a Republican when the 2018 elections get closer:
‘I’m confident that the governor will support the Republican nominee after our primary and as things get closer to the election to 2018.’
Meanwhile, the other source, who wasn’t named, was less optimistic:
‘His answer may as well have been, “Fuck you, no.”‘
Kayla Kessinger, a Republican from Fayette County who initially asked Justice about who he was supporting, also commented on the governor’s response, saying that it was important to hear his perspective following his recent party switch:
‘I think it’s a combination of things. What was it — a month ago? — that he decided to change parties? He decided to come to our side of the political spectrum, and our party has long been vocal about Joe Manchin and his liberal policies and our desire to replace him with a conservative that we can trust.
‘I was hoping that Gov. Jim Justice — if he is being honest about his desire to become a Republican and he embraces our conservative platform — that he would do everything it takes to make sure we have a conservative Republican in the United States Senate.’
In early August, when Justice — who ran and was elected as a Democrat — announced that he was switching parties, he struggled to define Republican values and explain why he was attracted to the Republican philosophy. Instead, he insisted that his personal values weren’t changing just because his party affiliation was.
‘The net-net of the whole thing is just this: Jim isn’t changing. Jim is still going to be Jim. Jim is still going to be the person who stands up for the common, everyday family. That’s all there is to it.
‘Jim is going to be rock solid behind the teachers and trying to help education. Jim is going to be exactly the same Jim that always was there. I’m just telling you with the process of what we have in this great thing, Jim can’t help West Virginia the way it is today. And Jim is not going to just come down here and take pictures and kiss babies and hang out.’
Featured image via Scott Halleran/Getty Images.