West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says he will seek re-election in 2020

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announces Monday that he is running for re-election in 2020. (WCHS/WVAH)

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday he is running for re-election in 2020.

“The further I go, the more I believe just this -- I believe there’s work to still be done,” Justice said.

Justice said he put a lot of thought into the announcement and wanted to make the announcement like how he did when he first started his campaign – in front of a podium, not behind it.

At the event in White Sulphur Springs, signs hanging throughout the room left little doubt about the governor’s plans. One read: “Hope Delivered, Justice 2020.” The event had some pomp and circumstance, with a color guard presenting colors. Before the governor’s remarks, a video set to music played some of the moments from the governor’s term so far.

The governor acknowledged his family, basketball players and “great friends” in the audience.

“When we started on this journey, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Justice said. “I knew that it would probably be difficult to even win. I wasn’t a politician. I’m not a politician . . . All I really care about is that we’re all West Virginians, and we know that there’s so many throwing rocks at us from the outside that we don’t need to throw rocks at each other.”

In Justice style, the governor utilized two whiteboards as visual aid for his announcement, writing numbers to display budget improvements made since 2016.

“With ideas maybe that I had and a lot of help and absolutely a miracle from God, we turned it around,” he said.

Justice said by year-end, the state will be $300 million above budget, touting severance taxes and “putting coal miners back to work” as reasons for the improvement.

“When a coal job is created it multiplies in jobs beyond belief,” Justice said.

Justice also mentioned bringing more attention to education in the state.

“We put education as our centerpiece,” he said. “We let the world know that we were truly interested in what we’re doing.”

Justice lastly credited the road bond referendum that was passed.

“73 percent of the people said, ‘I’m in,’ ” Justice said.

Justice closed the announcement, saying there is still more work to be done with the drug problem across the state.

Democrats issued a statement criticizing Justice following his announcement.

"Gov. Jim Justice was campaigning today instead of showing up to work during interims or to prepare for this year's 2019 legislative session,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore said in a news release. “Educators, state workers, and other fellow West Virginia workers were on the job while Governor Justice was playing politics touting questionable accomplishments and stretches of his imagination.”

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