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Gov. Jim Justice hints Trump has plans for West Virginia


The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register

WHEELING, W.Va.  — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said there are actions brewing nationally that could benefit West Virginia, and he believes his personal relationship with President Donald Trump could prove beneficial to the Mountain State in the coming months.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice visits Oglebay Park in Wheeling last week for a town hall meeting.
(Intelligencer photo by Joselyn King)

While in Wheeling this week, Justice recounted the story of how he received two surprise phone calls at his home early Monday.

The first, which came at 5:30 a.m., was from U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

“We went through all kinds of different stuff,” Justice said.

Justice said he and Perry spoke of a natural gas manufacturing hub “that’s going to fall right in (West Virginia’s) lap,” ways to help the coal industry and how to bring furniture manufacturing back to West Virginia.

“I thought, ‘This is pretty neat. These people are trying.’” Justice said.

The second came at 8 a.m., and it was from Trump at the White House.

“Believe it or not he usually calls me on my (cellphone), but he never has called my house,” Justice said. “I hear the phone ring, and I hear my wife (Kathy) yell, ‘Jim, Donald Trump is on the phone.’ I thought, “Man, is this not something else?”

He and Trump talked for about 30 minutes, according to Justice.

“Until he said, ‘I can’t talk too loud, I don’t want to mess my voice up. I’ve got to go give an important speech to the (United Nations),” Justice said. “I thought, ‘Then what are you talking to me for?’”

The crux of the conversation was that West Virginia needs to show it can help itself by passing the upcoming bond referendum, Justice said. This could lead to more help from the federal government.

According to information from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, the Republican Trump received 68.63 percent of the vote in West Virginia during the 2016 presidential election — the highest percentage among the 50 states. Justice was elected as a Democrat on the same state-wide ballot with 49.09 percent of the vote.

Justice changed his party affiliation in August, largely to align himself better with Trump.

“Donald Trump cares about West Virginia — believe it or not, for no other reason that I can pinpoint other than the man likes me and I really like him,” Justice said. “I really like his family. And I wish him the best. … He is our president, and we want him to succeed in every way — at least I do. There are so many things that are happening in West Virginia — and so many things at the federal level that could benefit West Virginia, it could make your head swim.”

See more from The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register

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