CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Democratic presidential nominee should expect no support from West Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee ahead of the November 8 general election.
“I cannot be a supporter of Hillary Clinton,” Jim Justice, billionaire businessman and the leader of the Democratic ticket in West Virginia, said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“The reason I can’t be is her position on coal is diametrically, completely wrong in many, many different ways.”
Justice, the owner of dozens of businesses that include coal companies and The Greenbrier Resort, did not indicate which presidential candidate would get his vote instead of Clinton.
“My reason that I ran for governor was not the presidential race, my reason I ran for governor is West Virginia and our people in West Virginia,” Justice said.
“I don’t need to be governor for me in any way, shape, form or fashion. I need to be governor for West Virginia.”
Eleven weeks ahead of Election Day, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball out of the University of Virginia Center for Politics had West Virginia listed as a “safe Republican” state in the 2016 presidential race.
Clinton has seen her popularity in West Virginia wane since 2008 when she beat then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) 67 percent to 20 percent, in the May Democratic primary.
In the 2016 May primary election, Clinton lost in the Mountain State to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), 51 percent to 36 percent.
Ahead of November, Justice pledged to support West Virginia’s Democratic candidates while, at the same time, rejecting the national ticket leader.
“Just because we have a specific person that’s running for the highest office in the land doesn’t mean that I’m going to just rubber-stamp it. I don’t rubber-stamp anybody,” Justice said.
According to Clinton’s campaign website, she’ll do the following on energy, if elected:
– Defend, implement, and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan and standards for cars, trucks, and appliances.
– Launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy, including for low-income families.
– Invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development to make the U.S. economy more competitive and create good-paying jobs.
– Ensure safe and responsible energy production. As we transition to a clean energy economy, we must ensure that the fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible and that areas too sensitive for energy production are taken off the table.
– Reform leasing and expand clean energy production on public lands and waters tenfold within a decade.
– Revitalize coal communities by supporting locally driven priorities and make them an engine of U.S. economic growth in the 21st century, as they have been for generations.
Justice said he’s not ruling out the importance of coal in future U.S. energy policy.
“Everybody had their heads stuck in the sand and said, ‘It’s over.’ I’m the one that said, ‘Wait a minute. Full stop. I’m not willing to give up on our miners. Full stop,” Justice said. “I’m the one that said, ‘Really and truly, I believe there’s good days in front of us as far as the metallurgical market'”
And, Justice claimed, the thermal coal market could potentially see a turnaround because of the chemical composition of coal in central Appalachia that, in his view, makes it more marketable.
Additionally, Justice said power plants in West Virginia should be incentivized to use “nothing but West Virginia coal.”
“I’m a coal guy,” Justice pledged, while calling GOP claims that he supported Clinton “completely crazy” and allegations that he donated money to President Obama “absolutely wrong.”
“It’s just complete crazy. I mean, that’s all there is to it,” he said.