CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On the invitation for a June 20 fundraiser of Gov. Jim Justice with Donald Trump Jr., the listed attendees include the state’s four Republican congressional delegates and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, is not on the invitation.
“There would be no way I would attend an event like this,” Carmichael said Friday. “I’m not one that believes who should want four more years of this type of leadership — or lack of leadership — at the governor’s mansion.”
Carmichael, appearing on MetroNews “Talkline,” questioned if Justice should be elected to another term, saying Justice needs to get more involved in his job and more active as the state’s top executive official first.
“I’m always taking the high road. I never want to disparage anyone’s character or demean them in any way. We hold ourselves in a very high standard in the state Senate,” he said. “For me to put my name on the list is a tacit endorsement that I want four more years of this type of behavior, and that’s not where I want to go.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) June 7, 2019
Carmichael said Justice’s record as governor is worth questioning, noting the legal problems facing Justice family companies and Justice’s lack of day-to-day involvement into government decision-making.
He also went after Justice for the condition of the state’s secondary roads, saying the state Legislature has made steps to fund projects, yet there are still issues with the state’s infrastructure. While Justice has pushed for road work, Carmichael called the attention a “recent phenomenon.”
“If you want to step out onto the podium and say our roads are under repair and fixed and so forth, I think you’re going to get a lot of pushback to that,” he told program host Hoppy Kercheval.
“These roads have deteriorated to the point where they are an embarrassment to our state, and we must have an incredible focus on road and transportation issues.”
Justice held a town hall on Tuesday in Mineral Wells, in which he criticized Carmichael for including charter schools and education savings accounts in the Senate’s sweeping education bill.
“I have pleaded with our Senate president saying, ‘Listen, you are imploding yourself.’ ‘You are imploding the Senate,” Justice said according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Carmichael fired back on “Talkline,” saying Justice backed the Student Success Act when it was first released on May 24.
“He was basically thrilled that we had put these components together. Then, he comes up at the very last minute, again, and expressed dissatisfaction with it,” Carmichael said. “There’s no consistency in leadership. No focus on doing the right thing. You can just see it.”
Carmichael attacked Justice again Friday afternoon in a press release.
“I call upon the Governor to join the effort to be first in education. I believe our West Virginia students are as smart, gifted, and blessed as any in America. We need a Governor with the conviction and strength to pursue the right course, not one that seeks to remain stuck in 50th with a system that is failing our students because it is comfortable,” he said.
“Perhaps, the Governor’s inconsistent positions on education and other matters can be laid at the feet of his constant legal troubles with unpaid bills, worker safety violations, and delinquent taxes. The worry and stress about these conflicts possibly contributes to his poor judgment and leads him to lash out at policies that represent traditional conservative values. His personal issues have certainly been an embarrassment to our state.”
Justice is facing multiple obstacles to winning the party’s nomination in next year’s election, such as opposition from local parties and two primary opponents, including former Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who is on the invitation for the Justice fundraiser, has stayed out of previous Republican primaries, including last year’s primary for U.S. Senate, which state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won. She said on “Talkline” she plans to do so again regarding the primary for governor.
“I think it’s going to be a very lively primary within our party, which is what happens when you become the majority party and the one with all the good ideas,” she said.
“A lot of the good ideas people are drawn to your party, and they want to run and lead. That’s what you want.”
Capito also expressed positivity for her working relationship with Justice, noting the efforts to secure a $100 million grant for work on Corridor H.