Justice remains popular, though numbers slip

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Though his popularity in West Virginia remains above 50 percent, Gov. Jim Justice’s approval rating has shrunk in the last three months.

Washington, D.C.-based researching and reporting organization Morning Consult released its July findings Tuesday of the most popular and unpopular governors in the United States. More than 195,000 registered voters were polled from April 1 to July 10.

In the report, Justice has 51 percent approval and 34 percent disapproval ratings, placing him 34th on the list and the last governor ranked with an approval rating above 50 percent.

In Morning Consult’s April 11 ratings, 58 percent of West Virginians approved of Justice’s job performance, while 24 percent disapproved. He was ranked 25th out of 50 governors at the time.

“Some of the newcomers in office elected last November are also seeing declining fortune in terms of voter perception in their states,” Cameron Easly wrote. “Gov. John Carney (D-Del.), saw his net approval rating drop 19 points from the first quarter as he negotiated a new budget deal, although half of registered voters in the state still back him.

“It’s a similar story for Jim Justice in West Virginia, who saw a 17-point drop in his net rating after clashing over the budget with Republicans in the statehouse as he attempted to implement some new taxes.”

Republican Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland have the highest approval rating at 71 and 68 percents respectively; Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has the highest disapproval rating at 69 percent is tied for the lowest approval rating with fellow Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas at 25 percent.

Also Tuesday, House Speaker Tim Armstead appeared on MetroNews “Talkline” to respond to Justice’s remarks regarding money given to the Boy Scouts of America.

The youth organization’s 2017 National Jamboree begins Wednesday at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette County.

The governor’s office said Monday $400,000 would be taken from its contingency fund for service projects during the 10-day gathering. A statement said the funding was promised in the Save Our State Fund proposed by the governor, which was not passed by the West Virginia Legislature.

Yet Armstead said lawmakers never heard any specifics about how and if the funding would be used to help the Boy Scouts.

“For (Justice) to say or for his office to say that they were going to use this SOS money for the Boy Scout camp is just ridiculous,” he said. “No one had ever heard any such thing.”

According to the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia, the estimated economic impact of the projects is more than $7 million.

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