WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice attacked Democratic members of the West Virginia Legislature in an address Saturday before the West Virginia Coal Association.
“I don’t know why we need the likes of (House Minority Leader) Tim Miley or this Sponaugle or whatever his name is,” Justice said. “I don’t know why we continue to buy into that.”
Justice spoke at the association’s annual meeting at The Greenbrier resort, which the Justice family owns.
Justice credited Republicans for the recent accomplishments of the state government, including an end to the statewide teacher’s strike in March and improvements in the state’s financial numbers.
“The Republicans, you and I, have brought us out of this mess,” he said. “Whether it be the teachers pay, whether it be the veterans, whether it be the changing of the reddest numbers on the planet to black, the Republicans, you and myself, have brought us to where we are right here.”
Justice compared Democrats to U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in regards to demeanor.
“I saw at the altar when the Republicans were willing to compromise and did great work — great work — and we were at the blooming altar, and the very people that the Democrats represent in a lot of ways — the poorest, the weakest, the veterans, the teachers — they dove in a ditch,” he said.
“You see things in the paper now that are honestly, to me, nothing but Nancy Pelosi-like,” he added.
Justice called out Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, who announced in June a lawsuit against the governor over a mandate in the state Constitution requiring the governor and officers of the executive branch to live in Charleston.
Justice has resided in Lewisburg since taking office. He previously said he is able to perform the duties of governor away from Charleston, adding he is saving the state money by not living in the Governor’s Mansion.
“He has to complain that I don’t stay in the mansion enough. Therefore, I can’t possibly be working hard enough,” Justice said. “I’m every day in West Virginia.”
Justice also attacked Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, a key figure in the statewide teachers’ strike. He is also running for the 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives.
“Of all people on this planet I can’t imagine that we could buy into is Ojeda. Really? Have any of you ever sat and had a conversation with Ojeda? Are you serious?” Justice said. “And he can be our U.S. congressman? I don’t get it.”
“If the @WVGOP plan is to get the most hated man in the state @WVGovernor to trash me, @isaacsponaugle and @TimMileyWV in hopes that it works against us….we really should send a thank you card to @MelodyWVGOP,” he said, referencing West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Melody Potter.
Miley and Sponaugle retweeted Ojeda’s remark.
Ojeda and Potter engaged in a Twitter argument in March after Ojeda met filmmaker Michael Moore, in which Ojeda said Potter criticized him for his pension from the military.
Potter said she did not attack Ojeda’s service.
Justice said economic progress is happening in West Virginia, but more can be done. He pointed to his coal proposal as one solution for growing the state’s economy.
“I need your help because your voices need to be heard. If you’re tired of picking up that paper every day, for God’s sakes living, don’t buy it,” he said.
The coal plan includes preventing the retirement of coal power plants — which was ordered by the Trump administration in June — and providing financial incentives for facilities in the eastern United States to use coal from central and northern Appalachia.
“At the end of the day, if you’re tired of listening to these people just do what they do and everything, work to get them not reelected,” the governor said.