By RUSTY MARKS
The State Journal
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Mike Hall, R-Putnam, is Gov. Jim Justice’s new pick for chief of staff.
“I am honored that Governor Justice has placed his trust in me, and I am eager to begin serving the people of West Virginia in this new role,” Hall said. “While it was an incredibly difficult decision for me to leave the Senate, I could not imagine a greater opportunity to use all I have learned during my time in the Legislature than this.
“I am confident the Governor is putting together the pieces he needs for a strong team that will continue to advance his vision and hopes for West Virginia.”
Earlier in the month, Justice announced he was changing his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. The announcement came at a rally for President Donald Trump in Huntington.
Casey, one of the first members appointed to Justice’s cabinet, is a CPA, respected attorney and former state Democratic Party chairman.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, welcomed the appointment. “We’re thrilled in the Senate that he’d be bringing his expertise to the governor’s office,” Carmichael said.
“I can truly think of no man who has more of a heart of a public servant than Sen. Mike Hall,” Carmichael said. “Gov. Justice’s choice sends a clear message to those who may have had doubts about the sincerity of his desire to return to the Republican Party. “Sen. Hall is a strong social conservative, and has a proven record of being a defender of life and freedom, which are two values West Virginians hold dear. Throughout his time as our Senate Finance Chairman, he has been tremendous protector of the taxpayers’ dollars, and he will bring a fiscally conservative eye to the budget process. His knowledge of our state’s finances will make him priceless to the Legislature as we prepare to deal with another difficult budget year. I am confident he will serve our governor well as he continues to work toward moving West Virginia forward.” He said Hall works well with both senators and the governor.
“Mike Hall has a reputation for being able to work with everybody,” Justice said. “He has an analytical mind and knows the ins and outs of the budget and budget process. That, and the fact that there is not a more respected man in the Legislature than Mike Hall really helped me make my decision.”
However, state Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore issued a scathing statement criticizing Justice for firing Casey.
“Jim Justice lied yet again to the people of West Virginia,” Biafore said. “First, he lied when he said Nick knew he was switching parties and now, he’s been proven a liar once again when he told West Virginians that party affiliation didn’t matter in his office.
Carmichael, however, praised the outgoing chief of staff.
“Nick was a professional who genuinely worked to advocate for the governor’s interests while being understanding of our positions in the Legislature,” Carmichael said. “I wish him all the best, and nothing but success in whatever his future may hold.”
Hall will take over as chief of staff on Aug. 21.
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