BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — Former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher announced plans Tuesday to seek the Republican nomination for governor next year, taking on his former boss Gov. Jim Justice.

Woody Thrasher

“I’m not a politician,” Thrasher said during an interview on MetroNews “Talkline.” “My primary focus has been on creating jobs.”

The Thrasher Engineering Group has 700 employees. Thrasher said his business has grown from three to 700 by hard work.

“I come to work every day,” Thrasher said. “No one is going to outwork me.”

Thrasher had two events scheduled Tuesday to make his announcement. Supporters were scheduled to join him in Bridgeport and later at the Secretary State’s Office at the state capitol.

Thrasher was commerce secretary under Justice until a falling out last year over the RISE West Virginia long-term flood recovery program.

Thrasher just recently became a Republican but he said Tuesday he’s supported Republican ideas for the better part of two decades.

Gov. Justice’s campaign was quick to respond to Thrasher’s entrance into the race. Campaign manager Mike Lukach released the following statement:

“We welcome the entry of Mr. Thrasher into the 2020 Republican Primary.

When Governor Justice appointed Mr. Thrasher as the Secretary of Commerce, the Governor, and all West Virginians, expected him to put the people of this state above his own interests. It’s sad that the opposite happened. Instead, Mr. Thrasher used his appointed position to travel all over the world on the taxpayers’ dime to promote the private companies of his friends, and at the same time, forgot about the RISE flood relief program and all the West Virginians still recovering from the 2016 floods. The Governor fights for the taxpayers of this state and won’t tolerate waste and abuse, which is why he demanded that Mr. Thrasher resign.

Under Governor Justice’s conservative leadership, this state has gone from bankruptcy to prosperity. Governor Justice has worked with President Trump to cut taxes, eliminate wasteful spending and create jobs. The Governor is going to continue working every day to protect West Virginia from the abuse of politicians like Mr. Thrasher.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.