Jim Justice jumps on the Moore Capito campaign. How much does it help?

Republican gubernatorial candidate Moore Capito has picked up momentum with two positive developments in recent days, but will it be enough to win the nomination?

First, the MetroNews West Virginia Poll showed that Capito was within two points of frontrunner Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (31 percent to 29 percent).*

Then Governor Jim Justice, who is running for the U.S. Senate, announced his endorsement of Capito.

The value of endorsements is questionable. However, there are two individuals whose approval has the potential to mean something in a West Virginia political race—Donald Trump and Jim Justice.

The importance of Trump’s imprimatur in this state is self-evident. The former president has carried the state by huge margins in the last two elections, and he will do so again this year. Republican candidates throughout the state are falling over themselves to show voters they stand with Trump.

Justice does not enjoy the same level of political devotion as Trump, but he is extremely popular. For example, in the most recent MetroNews-West Virginia Poll, Justice had a 42 point lead over Rep. Alex Mooney in the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate (66 percent to 24 percent). Justice’s expansive lead extends through all demographics. National surveys consistently rank Justice among the most popular governors in the country.

Will that translate into votes for Moore Capito? Justice’s endorsement of Rep. David McKinley did not help much. Mooney defeated McKinley by nearly 20 points (54 percent to 36 percent) in the 2022 Primary Election.

But that endorsement came three months before the election, and I do not recall Justice getting out on the stump for McKinley.  Justice’s backing may have faded in voters’ minds by the time of the election.

I am told that Justice will be campaigning for and with Capito. There is talk of joint appearances. Justice hinted at that in his endorsement announcement when he said he would support Capito “in every way,” and suggested that he and Capito would be part of a team.

Do not forget that Moore Capito’s mother, Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, stood with Justice when Justice announced his run for the Senate. Senator Capito typically does not pick a side in the Primary, but she did this time and Justice has not forgotten that.

This backing will benefit Capito most among undecided voters. Our poll showed ten percent of likely Republican Primary voters have not yet picked a candidate. A voter who is unsure could be swayed by Justice’s support, and that will be meaningful in a close race.

And this race is still a toss-up. Patrick Morrisey’s support is holding steady; he just needs to grow his lead a bit. Chris Miller remains the wildcard, with deep pockets and provocative ads. Mac Warner is short on cash, but he makes a compelling case for conservatives and veterans.

This feels like what runners say about a 26-mile marathon; you run the first 20 miles and then the second half of the race. This race for the Republican nomination for governor has been underway since last year, but the final three weeks will decide the outcome.





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